Star­walks:

Catron Courier - - News - by Thea Mar­shall

Fe­bru­ary opens with the wan­ing moon act­ing as a guide to the five plan­ets now vis­i­ble in the pre-dawn sky. Be­gin­ning with Fe­bru­ary 1, at 5:00 AM on the Eastern hori­zon, the Moon will be next to the planet Mars, which is next to the star Zuben El Genubi, one of the stars of the Scales. This is lo­cated on the eclip­tic and ca­pa­ble of be­ing oc­culted by a planet.

On Fe­bru­ary 3, at the same hour, the Moon will be just above the planet Saturn, which re­mains just to the right of the red star Antares, the ‘Heart of the Scor­pion’.

On Fe­bru­ary 6, at 5:45 AM, the wan­ing cres­cent Moon will be to the left of the planet Venus and just above the planet Mer­cury. As the sun does not rise un­til 7:10 AM by that day, there are nearly two hours avail­able for those who wish to see the show.

Jupiter, the largest planet in the so­lar sys­tem and sec­ond in bright­ness only to Venus, is al­ready in the night sky by 7:25 PM. On Fe­bru­ary 6, it rises ten min­utes af­ter the star Denebola in the Tail of the Lion. Jupiter be­gan ap­par­ent ret­ro­grade mo­tion on Jan­uary 8, mov­ing back­wards against the stars of the Lion. It will reach the star Zosma by the time it turns di­rect in mo­tion on May 9.

The Moon poin­ter in early pre-dawn Fe­bru­ary will al­low you to iden­tify the plan­ets and stars and en­joy the show all month long.

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