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In the Sky This Month

Venus and Mars remain steady companions in the early evening sky this month. Venus, the Evening Star, is the brighter of the two, with orange Mars staying just above it. One of the first signs of spring, the constellation Leo, begins poking its nose into the eastern evening sky, and clears the horizon by around nightfall at month’s end.

February 22: Winter Circle

Some of the brightest stars in the night sky form the Winter Circle, a jewel-studded cosmic necklace that fills much of the southern sky. Look for it as the sky gets nice and dark. The circle’s hub is bright orange Betelgeuse in Orion the hunter.

February 23: Zeta Puppis

Zeta Puppis, the brightest star of Puppis, the poop deck, is due south about 10 p.m., far to the lower left of brilliant Sirius and just above the horizon. Zeta Pup is one of the hottest stars around, tens of thousands of degrees hotter than the Sun.

February 24: Sirius and Canopus

The brightest star in the night sky is Sirius, the Dog Star. It is low in the south right now. If you live in the southern United States, look for Canopus, the second-brightest star, well to the south of Sirius.

February 25: Mars and Uranus

The planet Uranus stands quite close to the upper left of Mars tonight, which itself is to the upper left of Venus, the “evening star.” Through binoculars, Uranus looks like a faint star. Mars and Uranus will stand side by side tomorrow night.

February 26: Annular Eclipse

Skywatchers in South America and Africa are in for a treat today: a solar eclipse. Unfortunately, it’s an annular eclipse, so a bright ring of sunshine will outline the intervening Moon. The eclipse is not visible from the United States.

February 27: M46 and M47

The star clusters M46 and M47 are in good view this evening, not far to the left or lower left of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, which is high in the south at nightfall. Under dark skies, M47 is just visible as a hazy patch of light.

February 28: Moon and Planets

The planet Mars forms the top point of a skinny triangle this evening. It is far above the crescent Moon, and looks like a modestly bright orange star. The much brighter planet Venus, the “evening star,” stands closer to the upper right of the Moon.

Current moon phase

First QuarterFirst Feb. 3, 10:19 pm

Full MoonFull Feb. 10, 6:33 pm

Last quarterLast Feb. 18, 1:33 pm

New MoonNew Feb. 26, 8:58 am

Times are U.S. Central Time.

Perigee February 6

Apogee February 18

The full Moon of February is known as the Snow Moon, Wolf Moon, or Hunger Moon.