Sky at Night Magazine - - THE SKY GUIDE -

BEST TIME TO SEE: 29 Fe­bru­ary, 01:00 UT AL­TI­TUDE: 42º LO­CA­TION: Leo DI­REC­TION: South Jupiter is a morn­ing ob­ject that cul­mi­nates (reaches its high­est point due south) in dark­ness all month. It hov­ers around mag. –2.5 through Fe­bru­ary and is lo­cated close to mag. +4.1 Sigma Leo­nis, the star mark­ing the back paw of Leo. Any scope will show de­tails such as the two dark belts that run par­al­lel to the equa­tor, while a 4-inch or larger in­stru­ment will re­veal the fa­mous Great Red Spot. The other high­lights are the four Galilean moons, which dance around the planet’s globe. Oc­ca­sion­ally they ap­pear to tran­sit the planet’s disc, ac­com­pa­nied by their shad­ows – see page 51 for de­tails of a dou­ble moon­shadow tran­sit on the 29th. Venus is a bril­liant morn­ing ob­ject that is get­ting harder to see as it slowly creeps to­wards the Sun. A lovely con­junc­tion be­tween mag. 0.0 Mer­cury, –3.9 Venus and a 6%-lit wan­ing cres­cent Moon can be seen in the dawn twi­light, low in the south­east on 6 Fe­bru­ary. Through a scope, Venus shows an 11-arc­sec­ond disc, 85% lit on 1 Fe­bru­ary, in­creas­ing to 90% lit by 29 Fe­bru­ary. 29 Fe­bru­ary, 05:15 UT AL­TI­TUDE: 14º LO­CA­TION: Ophi­uchus DI­REC­TION: South-south­east Saturn is a morn­ing planet strug­gling for al­ti­tude. It sits in the south­ern part of Ophi­uchus, its yel­low-hued dot shin­ing away at mag. +0.5. It’s cer­tainly worth grab­bing a view of Saturn through a tele­scope if you can be­cause the rings are now very wide open as the planet ap­proaches its sol­stice po­si­tion next year. Also look out for the pat­tern formed by Saturn, Mars, mag. +1.0 Antares (Al­pha (_) Scor­pii) and a 66%-lit wan­ing gib­bous Moon on the 29th. Us­ing a small scope you’ll be able to spot Jupiter’s big­gest moons. Their po­si­tions change dra­mat­i­cally dur­ing the month, as shown on the di­a­gram. The line by each date on the left rep­re­sents 00:00 UT.

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