MANITOBA SKIES – February 2017
Apologies for the lateness of this posting! – SDY
The brightest planet, Venus, is visible in the western sky after sunset, blazing brighter than anything else in the sky other than the Sun and Moon. It’s often mistaken for an airplane or other flying object, since it does look almost unnaturally bright.
Mars is to the left and slightly above Venus, but it is much fainter. You may notice Mars’ distinctly reddish tinge compared with Venus’ blazing white colour.
Jupiter rises about midnight in the east-southeast, and by dawn is high in the southern sky. Just below it is the bright star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo. Even a pair of binoculars will reveal Jupiter’s largest moons – these appear as tiny “stars” in a line on one or both sides of the planet. The moons change their positions nightly, and sometimes one or more are invisible as they are either in front of or behind the giant planet’s disk.
Saturn rises about 5AM and hangs low in the southwestern sky before dawn. You’ll need a telescope to see the rings, but even telescopic views aren’t great this month, the thicker air near the horizon muddies the view. Wait a few months and you’ll be rewarded with a much better sight.
Mercury is too low in the morning sky to be easily seen in early February.
To see where things are in the night sky, visit Heavens-Above’s excellent Sky Chart page for Winnipeg, and adjust the times and dates for when you will be observing. For other locations, visit the Settings page and choose the nearest city or town.
Sky Events – February 2017
All times below are given in Central Standard Time (CDT), the local time zone for all of Manitoba.
15 Feb 2017 (after midnight): The moon is very close to Jupiter in the after-midnight sky.
20 Feb 2017 (pre-dawn): The moon is to the upper-right of Saturn.
28 Feb 2017 (evening): The thin crescent moon hangs below Mars and Venus in the early evening sky.
To spot the International Space Station as it passes over southern Manitoba, visit Heavens-Above.com which calculates times and directions for you.