STATES CHRONICLE – Astronomers reveal the celestial events bound to take place this month. February is known to be named after Februa, which was the Roman festival of purification. Since Groundhog Day takes place at six weeks after the winter solstice, half of the winter season is already gone. Researchers claim that winter is the shortest season of every year because it lasts one day less compared to summer.
That happens due to the fact that the Earth is almost at its closest point to the sun and is moving faster than it does during summer time. If you are willing to spend time outdoors contemplating the winter sky, then you will be lucky to see several fantastic celestial events. This winter, Venus shines brighter than it did in the last five years.
Stargazers may be thrilled to know that Comet 45P Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova will continue to be visible throughout this month. You only need some binoculars to spot it in Aquarius, near Venus. This month another eclipse season will start. We will be able to witness a profound penumbral eclipse of the moon. Unfortunately, the annular eclipse which will occur two weeks later will not be visible for us because it will be too far south.
This eclipse season will be the last one until the total solar eclipse on August 21. Early this month, Venus will reach its highest and brightest point in the sky, being positioned at 40 degrees above the horizon, at sunset. The planet will be there, visible at four hours after the sun will set when it starts to decline again. If you have a telescope, you can use it to analyze the phases Venus will go through.
At first, at the beginning of the month, it will be half bright, being lit by the sun and then going to just 18% light 28 days later. Mars will still be visible above Venus, to the left. On the first of February, these two planets will be only five degrees apart. By the end of the month, Venus and Mars will drift apart, facing a 12-degree separation. Mars will start fading since the Earth will keep getting farther in the faster orbit around the sun. Nevertheless, Venus will approach to Earth even closer, sinking below the western horizon in late spring.
Image source: wikipedia