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February 2024 Astronomy Events

February 2024 Astronomy Events

AstroTelescopium Team |

Embark on a celestial journey in February 2024 as Comet C/2021 S3 passes perihelion on the 14th, creating a dazzling streak across the night sky. On the following night, February 15th, witness the Moon and Jupiter in a mesmerizing conjunction, forming a celestial ballet for sky gazers.

The spectacle continues on the 16th with the Moon's close approach to the Pleiades star cluster, M45, creating a breathtaking tableau. On February 19th, the captivating spiral galaxy Messier 81 takes center stage, perfectly positioned for observation.

The lunar month concludes on February 24th with the Full Snow Moon, casting a silvery glow and marking the peak of winter's celestial dance. Join us for a dive into the celestial wonders awaiting avid stargazers and astronomy enthusiasts in February 2024. 

 

5 Astronomical Events in February 2024

  • 2/14: Comet C/2021 S3 passes perihelion
  • 2/15: Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter
  • 2/16: Close approach of the Moon and M45
  • 2/19: Messier 81 is well placed
  • 2/24: Full Snow Moon

 

First, a few technical terms to know:

Magnitude - Magnitude is the measure of an object's brightness, with lower numbers indicating greater brightness. The naked eye can perceive objects as dim as roughly magnitude +6.0 without optical assistance.

Right Ascension - Right ascension is the celestial equivalent of geographic longitude, measured from the Sun's position during March Equinox at 00h00m00s (h=hours, m=minutes, s=seconds). This measurement increases eastward until completing a full circle at 24h00m00s.

Declination - Declination is the celestial equivalent of geographic latitude, measured in degrees (°), minutes ('), and seconds ("). The celestial equator has a declination of 0°0'0", the north celestial pole is at +90°0'0", and the south celestial pole is at -90°0'0".

AU (astronomical unit) - AU is a unit measuring the distance from Earth to the Sun (93 million miles).

Angular Size - Angular size is a celestial object's apparent size as seen from Earth, measured in arcminutes(') and arcseconds(").

 

 

Astronomy events for your February 2024 calendar

 

February 14th - Comet C/2021 S3 passes perihelion

Comet C/2021 S3

On Valentine's Day, February 14th, keep an eye out for Comet C/2021 S3 as it makes its closest approach to the Sun, coming within 1.32 astronomical units (AU).

Comets, being quite unpredictable, owe their brightness to sunlight scattering off dust particles in their coma and tail. The dust constantly streams away from the comet's nucleus, with its density determined by the rate of ice sublimation in the nucleus due to the Sun's heat.

If you're interested in catching a glimpse, a telescope would be your best bet. Binoculars alone are unlikely to cut it, and seeing it with the naked eye is even less probable.

Comet C/2021 on 2/14

  • Magnitude: +9.4
  • Right ascension: 17h24m00s
  • Declination: 17°53'S
  • Constellation: Ophiuchus

 

February 15th - Conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter

Jupiter 

On Thursday, February 15th, the Moon and Jupiter are set to align in the night sky, sharing the same right ascension. The Moon will pass a mere 3 degrees and 9 minutes to the north of Jupiter.

Positioned in the constellation Aries, the Moon will shine at a magnitude of -11.6, while Jupiter will have a magnitude of -2.3.

While the pair may be too far apart to fit into the field of view of a telescope, they will still be a delightful sight for the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars. So, don't miss this celestial rendezvous.

Moon and Jupiter on 2/15

  • Magnitude: -11.6 (Moon) | -2.3 (Jupiter)
  • Right ascension: 02h26m30s
  • Declination: 16°38'N (Moon) | 13°28'N (Jupiter)
  • Constellation: Aries

 

February 16th - Close approach of the Moon and M45

M45

Friday, February 16th, is a date for a dazzling cosmic display. On this day, the Moon and M45, also known as the Pleiades star cluster, will come close, passing within just 30.9 arcminutes of each other.

Picture this: the Moon, shining brightly with a magnitude of -12.0, and the Pleiades, boasting a magnitude of 1.3, both gracing the constellation Taurus.

M45, residing about 444 light years away, holds the title of one of the nearest star clusters to Earth. In fact, it's the closest Messier object to our planet and stands out as the most prominent cluster visible to the naked eye in the night sky.

While they might be a tad too spread out for a comfortable view through a telescope, the Moon and M45 promise to be a captivating sight, whether you're using just your eyes or a trusty pair of binoculars.

Moon and M45 on 2/16

  • Magnitude: -12 (Moon) | +1.3 (M45)
  • Right ascension: 03h48m00s (Moon) | 03h47m30s (M45)
  • Declination: 23°36'N (Moon) | 24°06'N (M45)
  • Constellation: Taurus

 

February 19th - Messier 81 is well placed

M81

Get ready for a celestial treat on Monday, February 19th, as Messier 81 (M81) takes center stage in the evening sky, reaching its highest point around midnight local time.

Positioned at a declination of 69°03'N, this spectacle is best observed from the northern hemisphere, with visibility diminishing as you head south of 0°S.

With a magnitude of 6.9, M81 may be quite faint and won't reveal itself to the naked eye. However, grab a pair of binoculars or a small telescope, and you'll be in for a sight.

Also known as NGC 3031, M81 is a grand design spiral galaxy situated about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. Johann Elert Bode first spotted it on December 31, 1774, earning it the moniker "Bode's Galaxy."

Messier 81 on 2/19

  • Magnitude: +6.9
  • Right ascension: 09h55m30s
  • Declination: 69°03'N
  • Constellation: Ursa Major

       

      February 24th - Full Moon | Snow Moon

      Full Moon

      On Thursday, February 24th, the Moon reaches the full phase of its 29.5-day lunar cycle. You can catch it rising around dusk and setting near dawn. This enchanting event occurs when the Moon's ecliptic longitude is 180° opposite the Sun's ecliptic longitude.

      According to the Farmers' Almanac, February's Full Moon is charmingly named the "Snow Moon" in tradition. The moniker is thought to be inspired by the typically heavy snowfall that graces February, making it the snowiest month on average in the United States.

      This year, February's full Moon is classified as a "Micromoon," the antithesis of a "Supermoon." In simple terms, it means that the Moon is at its farthest point from Earth, an astronomical concept known as "apogee." Specifically, this Micro full Moon in February will be approximately 252,225 miles away from Earth.

      Full Snow Moon

      • Right ascension: 10h32m30s
      • Declination: 12°47'N
      • Constellation: Leo
      • Angular size: 29'25"
      • Distance from Earth: 252,225 miles

         

        Strategize your celestial observations

        Now that you're armed with knowledge about the celestial events gracing the night sky this month, it's time to elevate your stargazing experience. While some events can be enjoyed without any special gear, investing in a quality pair of binoculars or a top-notch telescope will undoubtedly take your observation sessions to the next level.

        If you're considering adding or upgrading your astronomy equipment, look no further. Our carefully curated selection boasts binoculars, telescopes, and accessories from industry-leading brands. Explore the wonders of the cosmos with high-quality optics available at unbeatable prices, all conveniently accessible through our online store.

        Take a moment to peruse our telescope collection or discover the possibilities with our astronomy binoculars.

        Feeling a bit overwhelmed by the choices? Don't worry; we've got you covered. Check out our blog post on "How To Choose The Right Telescope" or "How To Choose The Right Binoculars" for additional guidance. Embark on your celestial journey equipped with the best tools for an unparalleled stargazing adventure.

         

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