MANITOBA SKIES – February 2018
The evening sky is empty of planets as February opens, but by the end of the month you might be able to catch Venus just after sunset. The other planets congregate in the morning sky.
If you head outside before sunrise, Jupiter stands low in the southwestern sky. To Jupiter's left are a pair of reddish objects almost due south - the upper one is the planet Mars, and the lower one is the bright supergiant star Antares. "Antares" means "rival of Mars", and you can see why: the color of these two objects is redder than just about anything else in the sky. To the left of Mars and Antares is the planet Saturn, which is more of a pale yellow-white color.
In the second week of February, the waning Moon passes through this area, loitering near each planet in turn. On the morning of February 7th, the moon is above and to the right of Jupiter. On the 8th, it's about halfway between Jupiter and Mars, forming a squat triangle with the two planets. On February 9th, the moon is above and to the left of Mars, and on the 11th the moon is just above Saturn. Remember, all of these events occur in the morning sky before dawn, so set your alarm early!
At the very end of the month, you might be able to spot Venus in the evening sky, very low in the twilight just after sunset - but it will be a challenge. Don't worry, Venus - and its elusive cousin Mercury - will become easier to see next month.
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 2018
All times below are given in Central Standard Time (CST), the local time zone for all of Manitoba.
February 15 - New Moon, and partial solar eclipse which is only visible from Antarctica.
February 23 - The moon passes in front of, or occults, the bright star Aldebaran during the daylight. See details here.
Other events of interest to sky watchers can be found in SkyNews magazine, the Canadian Magazine of Astronomy & Stargazing.
To spot the International Space Station as it passes over southern Manitoba, visit Heavens-Above.com which calculates times and directions for you.