Photo: Illia Zavatski (Shutterstock)
We have seen some amazing things in the night sky in the past two months. February, on the other hand, is a little quieter – especially when it comes to planets. Of the five planets that we can normally see with the naked eye (that would be Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn), only Mars will be relatively easy to spot this month. That’s because the other four planets will hang pretty close to the sun.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t see them at all. Here’s how and when to spot each one, thanks to some tips from Joe Rao– An instructor and visiting professor at New York’s Hayden Planetarium who writes for Space.com.
Your best bet to catch Mercury is towards the end of the month. For Rao::
Mercury goes through an inferior conjunction (between earth and sun) on February 8th. It then moves into the morning sky and may become visible in the last week of February, which is very low in the east-southeast and connects to two other planets that also emerge from the glow of the rising sun: Saturn and Jupiter.
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According to Rao We may have missed our chance to see Venus in February, but it will be back:
Venus can only be seen very low over the east-southeast horizon for the first few days of the month just before sunrise. But it soon disappears in the sunlight on its way to the superior conjunction on March 26th.
Not only will Mars be visible, we won’t have to stay up late to see it either. Says Rao::
Mars, the only clearly visible planet in February, is near the meridian at sunset and remains in view until after midnight. This planet, which changes from Aries to Taurus on the 23rd, slowly decreases from +0.5 to +0.9.
Wait until the middle of the month to get a glimpse of Jupiter. Rao notes::
Jupiter The month starts too close to the sun to be visible. February 14th, “might” be the morning to try and get your first morning glimpse of it; At least half an hour before sunrise, it appears very low near the east-southeast horizon.
With a little patience you can also discover Saturn, according to Rao::
Saturn like Jupiter, February begins hidden in the sun. In the second half of the month it slowly appears at dusk.
Happy planet hunt!