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.