The stars of winter reign through the long February nights. Orion is in the south at nightfall, with Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, twinkling fiercely to its lower left. Venus reigns as the Morning Star, although Jupiter gives it some competition. The fainter planet Saturn is close by, adding to the spectacle in the dawn sky.
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In the Sky This Month
February 23: Alphard
Alphard, the brightest star of the constellation Hydra, the water snake, stands low in the east-southeast as the sky gets good and dark. It is far to the lower left of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky.
February 24: Hydra
The long constellation Hydra, the water snake, is beginning its annual crawl across the southern evening sky. As night falls, its head is in the east-southeast, about a third of the way up the sky. The head is outlined by a pentagon of meek stars.
February 25: Moon and Antares
Antares, the orange heart of the scorpion, is below the Moon at first light tomorrow, far to the right of the bright planet Jupiter. It’s a ticking time bomb that could explode as a supernova any time during the next million years or so.
February 26: Moon and Jupiter
The planet Jupiter huddles below the Moon at first light tomorrow. It looks like a brilliant star. But it’s really the solar system’s largest planet — a ball of gas about 11 times the diameter of Earth.
February 27: Evening Mercury
Mercury, the Sun’s closest and smallest planet, is in view in early evening the next few days. It’s quite low in the west as twilight fades. But it looks like a fairly bright star, so if you have a clear horizon, you should be able to spot it.
February 28: Oddest Month
The Moon will sweep past Saturn and Venus in the dawn sky the next few days. Saturn is close to the lower left of the Moon tomorrow, with Venus, the “morning star,” farther along the same line.
March 1: Moon and Planets
The planet Saturn just peeks into view at dawn now. Tomorrow, it will stand to the upper right of the Moon, with brilliant Venus closer to the left of the Moon. They will be in view by about an hour before sunrise, low in the southeast.