Check out NASA’s February space viewing tips

February is almost upon us, so it’s time for NASA to share its predictions about what to expect in the skies in the coming weeks.

Heavenly meetings

First, Jupiter and Venus will appear to meet in the night sky in the coming weeks. They’re easy to spot because of their bright appearance, but if you’re having trouble identifying them, use one of the many great astronomy apps available for Android and iPhone.

Another conjunction occurs near the end of the month when the moon and Mars appear very close together, high in the southwest after sunset.

Star Trek

NASA says February is a good month to choose the constellation Auriga.

“Auriga represents the driver of an ancient car, and is often described as a whole person, but given the outline, you can choose to think of it as one of the wheels of the car,” NASA explains on its website. “The brightest star in Auriga is Capella. Now, in Latin, Capella is the word for she-goat, and in addition to Capella, there are three small stars nearby, known as ‘ “little goats”—as in the name of goats, which is very nice.”

The constellation can be seen high in the western sky in February evenings. Watch the video for a detailed explanation of where to find it, or open your star app’s help.


Grab binoculars or a telescope to get a good look at the two open star clusters, M41 and M47.

“They are called ‘open’ because their stars are close together in space, but in a different shape,” NASA explains.

To find them in the night sky, first look at Sirius, which shines brightly in the south. M41, 2,300 light-years away, lies four degrees south of Sirius. NASA says you’ll be able to see them in the same field of view if you look through binoculars. It appears to be about the diameter of the full moon, but is actually about 25 light years.

For M47, start with Sirius and look 12 degrees east and then a few degrees north. It will appear to be about the same size as the M41, albeit a touch more. M47 is located about 1,600 light-years from Earth and is estimated to be about 12 light-years across.

NASA says: “Our sun is thought to have formed as part of a group like these, so finding them in the February sky could be a good way to connect to our cosmic origins.”

BONUS TIP: We’re being visited by a comet that last closed 50,000 years ago, and yes, it’s possible to watch it.

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