Each Monday I select the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week forward, however remember to test my most important feed for extra in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses and extra.
What To Watch For In The Night Sky This Week: February 1-7, 2021
Here comes the primary of two glorious weeks for stargazing. With the arrival of a Last Quarter Moon it means darkish skies within the night that needs to be excellent for recognizing the “snake” of stars that winds itself via the well-known three stars of Orion’s Belt.
For early-risers there are then just a few possibilities to see a waning crescent Moon go by some notable stars within the pre-dawn hour. This week additionally sees the “Swift Planet” Mercury transfer behind the Sun whereas its slower fellow “inner” planet Venus additionally begins to slide into the glare of our star. After a number of months as a glowing “Morning Star” the second planet from the Sun will disappear from the sky for some time to reappear in April as an “Evening Star.”
Monday, February 1, 2021: A rocket launch to the ISS
A scheduled cargo resupply journey to the International Space Station (ISS) ought to happen at this time. The launch of the Cygnus NG-15 spacecraft atop an Antares rocket will likely be from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. You can watch stay on NASA TV on YouTube.
Wednesday, February 3, 2021: See the Moon and Spica then go ‘Arc to Arcturus’
If you’re up within the early hours have a look to the southern evening sky and also you’ll see a 64%-lit Moon near Spica, the brightest star within the constellation of Virgo (and about 250 gentle years distant). Above will probably be a shiny reddish star, Arcturus, within the constellation of Boötes.
While you’re observing, strive a well-known star-hop. Start from the curve of the deal with of stars within the Big Dipper/Plough/Saucepan excessive above you, and go “arc to Arcturus, spike to Spica.” No you’ll at all times be capable of discover them.
Thursday, February 4, 2021: Last Quarter Moon
At 17:37 Universal Time at this time our satellite tv for pc will attain its Last Quarter part. That primarily implies that the Moon rises after midnight, clearing the best way for 10 successive nights of darkish, moonless skies.
Saturday, February 6, 2021: Antares and a crescent Moon displaying ‘Earthshine’
The fifteenth-brightest star within the evening sky, and the brightest object within the constellation of Scorpius, Antares will this morning be seen about 5° from a 30%-lit Moon within the pre-dawn southeastern sky.
About 555 gentle years distant, Antares is a large pink supergiant star that may stretch all the best way to the orbit of Mars if it was within the Solar System.
With the bare eye it is best to be capable of see its reddish glow, whereas the Moon’s darker limb will likely be reflecting daylight from Earth—that’s “planet-shine” or “Earth-shine.”
Object of the week: the ‘S’ in Orion’s Belt
You know Orion’s Belt. Also referred to as the “Belt of Orion” and the “Three Kings,” it’s that iconic line of three shiny stars—referred to as Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka—which are excessive up within the south come dusk.
However, have you ever ever take a look at the belt via binoculars? Any pair will do. Grab then and level them at Alnilam and Mintaka (on the “top”, or farthest west) and also you’ll see a line of stars snaking between them (from above Mintaka to beneath Alnilam) in an “S” form. The picture above is not nice—however know that the “S” is actually apparent in binoculars.
Times and dates given apply to mid-northern latitudes. For essentially the most correct location-specific info seek the advice of on-line planetariums like Stellarium and The Sky Live. Check planet-rise/planet-set, sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset occasions for the place you might be.
Wishing you clear skies and vast eyes.