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In the Sky This Month

Three bright planets congregate in the southeastern quadrant of the sky at dawn this month. Jupiter is the brightest and highest of the three, shining brilliantly from near the center of Libra, high in the south at first light. At the same time, Saturn is low in the southeast, just above the teapot formed by the brightest stars of Sagittarius. Mars slides between them. It begins the month closer to Jupiter (and close to its “rival,” Antares), but ends the month closer to Saturn.

February 23: Moon and Aldebaran

The bright orange star Aldebaran, which marks the eye of Taurus, the bull, stands to the lower right of the Moon as night falls and leads the Moon down the western sky later on. The star is about 65 light-years from Earth.

February 24: Venus Returns

The planet Venus, the brilliant “evening star,” is returning to view. It is quite low in the west at sunset, so any trees or buildings along the horizon will block it from view. If you have a clear horizon, though, you may be able to pick it out.

February 25: Blue Beauty

The constellation Monoceros is well up in the southeast in early evening, between the bright stars Procyon and Betelgeuse. A telescope reveals that the unicorn’s second-brightest star actually consists of three stars, all of which shine blue-white.

February 26: Lynx

An obscure cat known as Lynx pads high across the sky at this time of year. It stands high in the north-northeast in early to mid evening, about half way between the outer stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper and the bright twins of Gemini.

February 27: Moon at Perigee

The Moon is closest to Earth for its current orbit today, a point known as perigee. The Moon will be full on March 1, so the combination of perigee and an almost-full Moon will produce above-average tides.

February 28: Moon and Regulus

The Moon tonight cozies up to the star Regulus, the bright heart of Leo, the celestial lion. At their closest as seen from most of the United States, they will be separated by just a whisker.

Current moon phase

Last quarterLast Feb. 7, 9:54 am

New MoonNew Feb. 15, 3:05 pm

First QuarterFirst Feb. 23, 2:09 am

Times are U.S. Central Time.

Apogee February 11

Perigee February 27

There is no full Moon this month.