What’s Up for February 2018? Let’s look at some celestial “pairs” in honor of Valentine’s Day February 14th!
The constellations Perseus and Andromeda are easy to see high overhead this month.
According to lore, the warrior Perseus spotted a beautiful woman—Andromeda–chained to a seaside rock. After battling Medusa and a whale, he rescued her.
As a reward, her parents Cepheus and Cassiopeia allowed Perseus to marry Andromeda. You can see this starry couple together nearly overhead, traveling around the north celestial pole.
The great hunter Orion fell in love with seven sisters, the Pleiades, and pursued them for a long time. Eventually Zeus turned both Orion and the Pleiades into stars.
Orion is easy to find. Then draw an imaginary line through his belt stars to the Pleiades, and watch him chase them across the sky forever.
Two easy to see pairs of star clusters are visible on February nights. The Perseus Double Cluster is high in the sky near Andromeda’s parents Cepheus and Cassiopeia.
Through binoculars, you can see dozens of stars in each cluster. Actually there are more than 300 blue-white super-giant stars in each of the clusters.
There are some colorful star pairs, some visible just by looking up, and some requiring a telescope. Gemini’s twins, the brothers Pollux and Castor, are easy to see without aid.
Orion’s westernmost (or right) knee, Rigel, has a faint companion. The companion, Rigel B, is 500 times fainter than the supergiant Rigel but is visible only with a telescope.
Orion’s westernmost belt star, Mintaka, has a pretty companion. You’ll need a telescope.
Finally, the moon pairs up with the Pleiades on the 22nd, and with Pollux and Castor on the 26th,
Now a couple of special mentions : On Thursday February 8th before dawn see a waning Moon close to Jupiter – with Mars nearby.
The Moon and Jupiter are in the pre-dawn sky. If clear before dawn on the 8th, notice a waning moon, between Full Moon and Last Quarter, lies close to Jupiter. Down to the left is Mars lying above Antares in Scorpius.
On Friday February 23rd/24th evening: The Moon in a beautiful skyscape : In the evenings of the 23rd and 24th of the month, the Moon, coming towards first quarter, will pass through Taurus and Orion.
On the 23rd, it will lie close to Aldebaran and on the 24th lie above Orion.
You can find out about all of NASA’s missions at www.NASA.gov.
Should you wish to meet the RASCals of Cattle Point – see Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/groups/VictoriaRASCals/
Dark Skies to all friends of Cattle Point Star Park.
Summary is from the transcript of “What’s Up in February 2018” by NASA announcer and astronomer Jane Houston Jones with specific permission for localization to Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park and the Oak Bay News. You can subscribe to her weekly BLOG at : http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/category/10things
Mark Bohlman, the Star Park manager, was on Victoria’s CFAX radio last week. The Star Park has become a favorite for locals and tourists, day-time or night-time. Mark gave an update on the “Vancouver Island Walk of the Planets”. The custom map below has interesting hot-links for each planet on the various walks.
Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park was created by Oak Bay Municipality to support the International Dark Sky Movement.
The Municipality is pleased to report a substantial reduction in light pollution as a result of an increased awareness of this issue by Municipal Employees, local citizens and businesses.
A classic implementation by a local business is at the Oak Bay Beach spa area where there was initially extremely bright lights purchased and installed as part of the rebuilding. These have been reduced to a bare minimum using the bright lights only in emergencies. The result is that occupants of the various pools can now enjoy the night skies and see the stars, constellations and planets.
Residents will also notice the Municipal street lamps are now carefully configured to throw minimal light up into the night sky.