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February 2015.

A bright Moon, Full on the 4th, shines near Jupiter in the evening sky. Regulus, the brightest star of Leo the Lion, marks the tip of the prominent Sickle asterism.

The waning Moon lies less than 3[degrees] from Saturn on the 13th. The next morning the Moon is about 2[degrees] from eta Ophiuchi, which marks the leg of Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer.

The thin lunar crescent lies near Mercury at dawn on the 17th. From now until late March, Mercury is well-placed for observing in the morning sky.

Venus and Mars are less than %[degrees] apart on the evening of the 22nd, forming the tightest naked-eye planetary grouping this year. They are only slightly further apart on the 21st.

Lunar highlight

Name: Mare Crisium

Meaning: Sea of Crises

Location: Near the east-northeastern limb of the Moon.

Type: Dark basaltic plain formed by volcanic eruptions.

Size: 638 km

Age: About 3.8 billion years.

Best seen: Three days after New Moon and two days after Full Moon.

Notes: Named by Italian astronomer Giovanni Riccioli, pioneer lunar scholar who first named features on the Moon for scientists. He published one of the earliest books on astronomy, Almagestum Novum, in 1651.

Deep-sky highlight: eta Carinae Nebula (NGC 3372)

This glorious nebula can be seen with the naked eye as the brightest patch along the southern Milky Way, midway between the Southern Cross and the False Cross. Binoculars show two large fans of nebulosity separated by a dark gap. The brightest star, located in the northern part of the nebula, is the mysterious eta Carinae, one of the most massive and luminous stellar systems known in the Galaxy. Eta Carinae is currently about 5th magnitude, but when observed by La Caille in the 1750s it was shining at 2.3mag. In 1837 it erupted and was briefly the second-brightest star visible in the night sky. Immediately west of eta Carinae is a keyhole-shaped dark nebula, the remnants of a molecular cloud from which some of the surrounding stars were formed.

The central part of the massive nebula sketched by Magda Streicher as seen through a 16-inch SCT. The brightest star in the sketch is eta Carinae, on the edge of a prominent dark nebula nicknamed the "Keyhole".

Jupiter's Galilean moons. (February 2015)

The paths of Io (1.77-day period), Europa (3.55d), Ganymede (7.16d) and Callisto (16.69d) around Jupiter (central column) throughout February.

Double shadow transit on Jupiter

The sequence of moon and shadow transit events starts with the appearance of Callisto's shadow (17:10). Callisto's transit ends at 17:12, and Io then begins to transit at 21:16. At 21:38 Io's shadow appears. At 21:59 Callisto's shadow disappears, ending the double shadow transit. Io ends its transit at 23:20, and at 23:56 Io's shadow disappears.

Movement of the planets

The positions of the inner planets (top) and outer planets (bottom) during February. The filled symbol shows the planet's position at the start of the month.

Venus and Mars close approach

Changing phase of Venus

Seeing Venus in the day: Feb 20 & 21

Venus (-3.9-mag.) is about 7%[degrees] from the crescent Moon at noon on February 20 and 21. Finding the Moon (either with the naked eye or with binoculars) will help locate the bright planet. The Sun--Venus separation is about 28[degrees]. Mars (+1.3-mag.) lies less than 1[degrees] north-east of Venus and may be visible in a telescope. Remember it is hazardous to look directly at the Sun.

Planet visibility

planet      eve.       morn.

Mercury       x       [check]
Venus      [check]       X
Mars       [check]       X
Jupiter    [check]    [check]
Saturn    ([check])   [check]
Uranus     [check]       X
Neptune   ([check])      X

Moon rise and set

d       Bloem.          Cape Town       Durban

     rise     set    rise     set    rise     set

01   17:11   03:17   18:00   03:31   17:01   03:04
02   18:01   04:12   18:25   04:26   17:26   03:35
03   18:25   05:08   19:13   05:22   18:14   04:31
04   19:11   06:03   19:34   06:19   19:01   05:26
05   19:33   06:34   20:17   07:15   19:22   06:22
06   20:17   07:29   21:01   08:11   20:05   07:17
07   21:01   08:23   21:20   09:07   20:25   08:11
08   21:21   09:18   22:03   10:02   21:10   09:06
09   22:06   10:13   22:23   10:34   21:30   10:01
10   22:29   11:08   23:08   11:31   22:16   10:33
11   23:17   12:05   23:32   12:28   23:05   11:29
12    -:-    13:02    -:-    13:26   23:31   12:26
13   00:08   13:35   00:22   14:24    -:-    13:25
14   01:02   14:34   01:16   15:22   00:25   14:22
15   01:35   15:31   02:13   16:20   01:22   15:20
16   02:35   16:28   03:13   17:16   02:22   16:16
17   04:01   17:23   04:16   18:10   03:25   17:11
18   05:05   18:16   05:22   19:02   04:29   18:05
19   06:10   19:08   06:28   19:28   05:34   18:32
20   07:17   19:35   08:00   20:19   07:03   19:23
21   08:21   20:26   09:05   21:07   08:09   20:14
22   09:24   21:16   10:10   21:32   09:13   21:04
23   10:26   22:07   11:13   22:22   10:15   21:31
24   11:27   22:34   12:14   23:13   11:16   22:22
25   12:26   23:27   13:14    -:-    12:15   23:14
26   13:23    -:-    14:12   00:05   13:12    -:-
27   14:18   00:21   15:07   00:34   14:07   00:08
28   15:10   01:15   15:35   01:29   14:35   01:02

d         Harare          Jo'burg

     rise     set    rise     set

01   16:25   03:16   17:04   03:16
02   17:16   04:10   17:31   04:10
03   18:06   05:05   18:19   05:05
04   18:30   05:34   19:05   06:00
05   19:17   06:27   19:27   06:31
06   20:04   07:20   20:12   07:25
07   20:26   08:12   20:32   08:19
08   21:13   09:05   21:17   09:13
09   21:35   09:33   22:03   10:07
10   22:24   10:26   22:26   11:02
11   23:14   11:21   23:15   11:34
12    -:-    12:16    -:-    12:31
13   00:06   13:13   00:06   13:28
14   01:01   14:10   01:00   14:26
15   01:34   15:08   01:33   15:23
16   02:34   16:06   02:33   16:20
17   03:35   17:02   03:35   17:16
18   05:01   17:34   05:03   18:10
19   06:03   18:29   06:07   19:02
20   07:05   19:23   07:13   19:31
21   08:08   20:17   08:16   20:22
22   09:08   21:10   09:19   21:13
23   10:07   22:02   10:20   22:04
24   11:06   22:32   11:20   22:32
25   12:04   23:26   12:19   23:25
26   13:00    -:-    13:15    -:-
27   13:31   00:20   14:10   00:19
28   14:24   01:14   15:03   01:14

For Port Elizabeth subtract 28m from Cape
Town; for Bulawayo add 9m to Harare.

Sun's position

d            5 at 02:00     Con   Transit

01   -17[degrees]   18.5'   Cap   12:13:33
04            -16   26.7    Cap   12:13:53
06            -15   50.7    Cap   12:14:03
08            -15   13.6    Cap   12:14:09
10            -14   35.4    Cap   12:14:12
12            -13   56.3    Cap   12:14:13
14            -13   16.3    Cap   12:14:10
16            -12   35.4    Cap   12:14:05
18            -11   53.6    Aqr   12:13:56
20            -11   11.2    Aqr   12:13:45
22            -10   28.0    Aqr   12:13:31
25            -09   22.0    Aqr   12:13:06
28            -08   14.8    Aqr   12:12:35

d        Start    End    Moons       CPT           JHB

Feb 26   21:38   21:59    C, I   33[degrees]   44[degrees]

Time of start and end of the double shadow transit event on
Jupiter. Moons: C = Callisto, I = Io. The last two columns give
the altitude of Jupiter at mid-event.
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Publication:Sky Guide Africa South
Article Type:Calendar
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2015
Words:1407
Previous Article:January 2015.
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