Astrophiz164: Dr Ian Musgrave’s February SkyGuide


Moon Phases:
Feb 6 Apogee Full moon
Feb 14 Last Quarter moon
Feb 20 New moon
Feb 27 First Quarter moon

Evening Sky

Venus and Jupiter in the West half an hour after sunset.

On the 15th Venus and Neptune are just 10 arc-seconds apart but will be very close to the horizon in the twilight before they set, so quite a challenge to image them,

On the 22nd Venus and the very fine 6% Crescent moon will be just 1 degree apart low on your western horizon just after sunset, with Jupiter nearby making a nice trio.

And as the month progresses, Jupiter and Venus just get closer and closer together. By 28 February they are just 2 degrees apart. A fine sight to catch on your western horizon.

Also on the 28th, in the North, Mars and the waxing moon are just 3 degrees apart.

In a telescope, Venus’s phase currently is an oval and looks like the gibbous moon.

Mars starts the month sitting on the ecliptic if you’re looking North, it is below Aldabaran and to the right of the beautiful Pleiades, and swings to the west as the month progresses.

For naked eye observers who go out well after sunset, the skies will be pretty dark from the middle of the month on, and you’ll have magnificent views of intense Sirius up very high, Orion almost overhead with bright Rigil and Betelguese attendant, and below them,  the Pleiades, Mars and Aldabaran are gathered to round out a great collection of celestial wonders.

Morning Skies

On the 19th, the 3% thin crescent moon is just 4 degrees above Mercury around 5:30am on the eastern horizon for those on AEST

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) has already been a great sight in the Northern Hemisphere and now having passed by the sun, will now be best seen in Northern Australia in places like Darwin and Cairns around the 3rd of February. For those further South, you’ll have to wait for the morning of the 6th of February,  however with the full moon over in the west, you’ll need binoculars to see the comet to compensate for the moonlight. On the 14th the comet is close to Aldebaran.

In Ian’s Tangent we find out all about the water and alcohol content of comets and the obscure fact (according to some US media outlets) that Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is 1000 penguins wide.

In two weeks we bring you an amazing interview with Dr Vishal Gajjar who is a project scientist for Breakthrough Listen, the search for extraterrestrial technosignatures. He is based at UC Berkley and has developed novel AI algorithms to interrogate the immense data sets from the worlds largest radio telescopes. 

This interview is pure science on steroids and right out of this world. You’ll love it!!

The team’s latest paper has just been published in Nature and is available at

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