Monday 12th to Sunday 18th February 2024
If you venture outside around 7pm on Wednesday 14th and look towards the south west, Jupiter will be very easy to spot at a magnitude of -2.1, with a waxing Crescent Moon a little to the right of it. Turning your gaze to the left and looking south, you will be greeted by the constellation of Orion. Half way between Orion and Jupiter (and slightly higher in the sky) is the Pleiades open cluster of stars. To the left of Orion and slightly lower will be the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius.
If you go out again at the same time the following evening, on Thursday 15th, you will have pretty-much the same view except that the Moon will be a little above and to the left of Jupiter. This is because the Moon is very close to us compared to everything else and it is orbiting around the Earth a quite a speed! Our natural satellite is actually travelling at 2288 miles per hour and at that speed, it takes just over 27 days to go around us, travelling just under one and a half million miles while it does so!
At the same time on Thursday 15th, planet Uranus will be located just to the left of the Moon. It only has a magnitude of around +5.8 so you would really need binoculars or a small telescope to stand any chance of spotting it.
Finally, around half past midnight in the early morning of Saturday 17th is the optimum time to spot the Clair-Obscur visual effect known as the Lunar X and Y on the Moon's surface with your telescope. The Moon will be setting towards the west, with the Pleiades just to the right of it and the red giant star Aldebaran to the left.
Screenshots courtesy of Stellarium
Copyright Adrian Dening and Radio Ninesprings 2024