All five naked eye planets are still visible in the morning skies. The small planet Mercury is probably the most difficult as it is low on the horizon and just before Sun rise. Mercury is best seen from 6.30 am onwards and in the constellation Sagittarius. The bright planet Venus is nearby Mercury and best seen from 6.25 am onwards and also in the constellation Sagittarius. The red planet Mars is best seen from 1.20 am onwards in the constellation Libra. The giant planet Jupiter is best seen from 7.40 pm onwards, throughout the night and in the constellation Leo. The planet with the rings Saturn is best seen from 3.35 am onwards and between the planets Mars and Venus in the constellation Ophiuchus.
The Gegenschein could be visible just after midnight. It is a faint glowing patch of sky relatively good for observation and 52° above the Southern horizon in the constellation Leo.
Wednesday 10 February
The International Space Station, called ISS, appears a few times tonight. You do not need a telescope or binocular. ISS is visible with the naked eye. It moves as a bright star through the night sky, quite slowly and easy to spot. The first appearance is at 5.25 pm in the West South West. ISS passes close to the Moon at 5.28 pm. The separation is less than a degree or less than 2 lunar diameters. The culmination or the highest point in the sky is at 5.30 pm in the South South East at about an altitude of 51°. ISS disappears at 5.33 pm in the East. The orbit of ISS around the Earth takes about 90 minutes. ISS appears again at 7.02 pm in the West. Culmination is at 7.07 pm in the South at an altitude of 75°. ISS disappears short after in the Earth's shadow at 7.07 pm in the South East at 71° high. One more orbit and ISS appears very short for a few minutes at 8.38 pm in the West. ISS disappears at 8.40 pm at about 8° altitude.
The Moon is at descending node today at 8.46 pm. Moon is as well in perigee. The distance is 227724 miles or 364358 km at 2.32 am. Look for the Earthshine when you watch the Moon.
You will need a small telescope or a good binocular to see the Jovian Moons and details on the giant planet Jupiter. At 3 am the Great Red Spot is in transit on the giant planet. Can you spot?
A very bright Iridium flare appears in the South South East at an altitude of 24° at 6.29 am and in the constellation Ophiuchus. Iridium flares are satellites, like ISS, visible with the naked eye. The brightening or flare appears at the time and spot indicated. Good satellite spotting. Try it!
Thursday 11 February
ISS appears at 6.09 pm in the West. Culmination is at 6.14 pm in the South at an altitude of 75° and ISS disappears at 6.17 pm in the East at 18° altitude.
Look for the Earthshine on the Moon at about 6.24 pm.
ISS appears once more after an orbit which takes about 90 minutes at 7.45 pm in the West. But ISS disappears already after a few minutes at 7.49 pm in the West at 28° altitude.
Look at 10.51 pm for transit of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter.
At about midnight, at 0.43 am the equation of time is at minimum with -14.22 minutes. So the sundials are late. Today, the Sun culminates the latest of the year.
Get your telescope back out and look for Jupiter. At 2.01 am the Jupiter Moon Europa begins it shadow. At 3.15 am the same Moon transits and at 4.50 am it ends it shadow. At 5.50 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins its shadow. The Jupiter Moon Europe ends its transit at 5.59 am and at 6.25 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins its transit.
Friday 12 February
ISS appears quite early in the evening at 5.16 pm in the West South West. Culmination is at 5.22 pm in the South at an altitude of 68°. ISS disappears at 5.26 pm in the East.
A very bright Iridium flare is visible at 5.36 pm in the South South West at 38° in the constellation Cetus.
Last month, on the 12th the waxing crescent Moon was moving through the constellation Aquarius in the evening sky. A faint constellation, there are no bright stars to illuminate the twilight and unfortunately this month’s Moon is not any better as it passes through Pisces. But it is still an excellent opportunity to see Earthshine and the Moon might help to spot some of the fainter stars of Pisces. Have a look at about 6.25 pm.
One more orbit and ISS appears at 6.53 pm in the West. Culmination is at 6.58 pm in the South at an altitude of 65°. ISS disappears at 6.59 pm in the South East at about 47° altitude. ISS disappears in the Earth shadow. Wave good night to UK astronaut Tim Peake! One orbit more and ISS appears again at 8.29 pm in the West. ISS disappears already after 2 minutes at 8.31 pm in the West at 10° altitude. In the shadow and not visible, but ISS passes the Moon very close at 8.32 pm with only a separation of 0.75°.
Look in the morning at Sunrise. Earlier at 2.57 am the small planet Mercury is close to the brighter Venus. They are 4° separated. The Sun is only 25° away, so look just before Sun rise in the morning.
Jupiter time! At 3 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins its eclipse. The Great Red Spot is in transit at 4.38 am and at 5.51 am the Jupiter Moon Io reappears from its occultation.
Saturday 13 February
Today in 1990 the US space probe Voyager I , while heading out to the edge of the Solar System, began a 4 hour series of photographs in a look backward which captured the Sun and six planets. An elongated large mosaic was later made by combining about 60 images. In this first “Family Portrait of the Planets”, the Sun appeared almost star-like and the planets were mere dots. Mercury was too close to the sun to photograph. Mars and Pluto (that time still called a “planet”) were too small to resolve. This first record of the Solar System from space may remain the only one for decades to follow.
ISS appears at 6 pm in the West. Culmination is at 6.06 pm in the South at an altitude of 73°. ISS disappears at 6.08 pm in the East at an altitude of 13° altitude.
Look for the Earthshine on the Moon in between at 6.25 pm.
ISS appears again at 7.37 pm in the West and disappears already at 7.41 pm in the South West at 31° altitude.
Take your telescope or a good binocular and look at Jupiter. At 8.56 pm the Jupiter Moon Europa eclipse begins. After midnight, at 0.18 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins as well its eclipse. At 0.29 am the Great Red Spot will transit the giant planet Jupiter. At 0.45 am the Jupiter Moon Europa reappears its occultation. And at 0.51 am the Jupiter Moon Io begins its transit and ends its shadow at 2.34 am. The actual transit ends at 3.05 am.
A rather bright Iridium flare appears at 6.20 am in the South South East at an altitude of 28° in the constellation Ophiuchus.
Sunday 14 February
ISS appears at 5.08 pm in the West. Culmination is at 5.13 pm in the South at an altitude of 75°. ISS disappears at 5.18 pm in the East.
Look for the Moon and watch the Earth shine at 6.25 pm.
ISS appears again at 6.44 pm in the West. Culmination is at 6.49 pm in the South South West at an altitude of 48°. At that point ISS crosses the disk of Moon with a separation of only 0.15°. Of course if the calculations are right and if the orbit remains. ISS has now and then extra boost corrections and it might change. Feel free to connect with me for a last minute check. ISS disappears again at 6.51 pm in the South East at an altitude of 26°.
An Iridium flare appears at 7.04 pm in the North North East at an altitude of 42° in the constellation Draco.
The Great Red Spot will transit the giant planet Jupiter at 8.20 pm.
ISS appears again at 8.21 pm in the West but disappears already at 8.23 pm in the West South West at an altitude of 11°.
Back to Jupiter. At 9.29 pm the Jupiter Moon Io begins it eclipse. After midnight at the same Moon reappears from its occultation. At 6.16 am the Great Red Spot is in transit,
In the early morning it is First Quarter Moon at 7.46 am. It is the 2nd biggest First Quarter Moon of the year. The former larger First Quarter Moon was on 16 January 2016. The next larger First Quarter Moon is on 4 February 2017.
Monday 15 February
ISS appears at 5.51 pm in the West. Culmination is at 5.57 pm in the South South West at an altitude of 61°. ISS disappears at 6 pm in the East South East. After one orbit, which takes about 90 minutes, ISS appears again at 7.28 pm in the West. Culmination this time at 7.33 pm in the South South West at 22° altitude. ISS disappears at the same time in the Earth shadow.
Watch Jupiter and its Moons. At 9.02 pm the Jupiter Moon Io ends its shadow and ends its transit at 9.31 pm.
After midnight our Moon crosses the constellation Taurus with its many stars grouped, called the Hyades. At 1.35 am the Moon is only 4 lunar diameters away from the stars called The2 Tau, The1 Tau and Hyadum II. The Moon altitude is only 6° but have a look later when it is higher in the sky. The stars still will be nearby. The Moon phase is 58%. A little later, at 1.40 am the Moon is close to the bright star called Aldebaran. The distance is about 7 to 8 lunar diameters. The Moon occults Aldebaran at 8.05 am for the Northern Pacific. For us in and near Ashbourne, at 1.46 am the Moon will occult or immerse the star Hyadum I. Try to watch with a binocular, a small telescope or even a good zoom on tripod.
At 2.07 am the Great Red Spot will transit the giant planet Jupiter.
Tuesday 16 February
ISS appears at 6.35 pm in the West. Culmination is at 6.40 pm in the South South West at an altitude of 31°. ISS disappears at 6.43 pm in the South East at 12° altitude. ISS appears once more at 8.12 pm in the West. But disappears already after 4 minutes at 8.16 pm in the South West at 8° altitude.
The Jupiter Moon Ganymede begins its shadow cross at 3.56 am and its transit is at 5.48 am.
Our Moon is in maximum libration North at 5.33 am. The North Pole of the Moon and Mare Frigoris are tipped into the Earth's view.
At 6.11 am an Iridium flare is visible in the South South East at an altitude of 33° in the constellation Ophiuchus.
Wednesday 17 February
The International Space Station, called ISS appears as a bright star moving slowly in the sky. Look from 5.43 pm onwards it the West. ISS gets its highest point, of culmination at 5.48 pm in the South South West at an altitude of 43°. ISS disappears in the East South East horizon. You do not need a telescope or binocular to watch. ISS is visible with the naked eye. One orbit around the Earth takes about 90 minutes. ISS appears again at 7.19 pm in the Western horizon. Culmination is at 7.24 pm in the South West. ISS disappears at 7.25 pm in the South at about 9° altitude. Wave at our British astronaut Tim Peake!
Out Moon is in maximum declination North at 11.23 pm. This is the 2nd lowest Northernmost Moon position of the next 10 years, and the 2nd lowest of the year. The former lower Northern Northernmost Moon position was on 31 October 2015. The next lower Northern Northernmost Moon position is on 16 March 2016.
Watch the giant planet Jupiter. If you have a small telescope or a good binocular you can watch features on the disc of the planet and can see the 4 brighter Jupiter Moons, called Jovian Moons. At 3.45 am the Great Red Spot is in transit and can be seen.
Not that you will notice, but for Solar observers at 4.05 am the Solar Rotation begins its Carrington rotation number 2174.
Before Sun rise, a very bright Iridium flare is visible at 7.20 am. Iridiums are satellites, moving like a bright star in the sky and visible with the naked eye. Iridium flares lights up very sudden for a few seconds. This one is visible in the East North East at an altitude of 31° and in the constellation Pegasus. Let us know if you saw it.
Get in touch with me via www.patrickpoitevin.weebly.com if you need more information.