NASA Offers Top Tips for February’s Night-sky Entertainment
NASA posted a video (above) showing their top tips on what to look out for in the night sky this month.
It rightly begins with Mars and notes that February is a very special month as the space agency’s Perseverance rover – along with the Ingenuity helicopter – will arrive after a six and a half month space flight.
Unless you have superhuman eyesight, you will not be able to see the land of the Mars rover on the surface of Mars on February 18. However, you can see the red planet for yourself, and with a little imagination, aided by Perseverance’s fantastic interactive simulator of the planned landing process, in a couple of weeks visualizing in your head what is there, 113 million miles away, about this particular one Day happens.
Recognizing Mars in the night sky on February 18 is child’s play – as long as there are of course no annoying clouds in the way. Just find the moon, which will be half full by that time, and you’ll spot the red planet nearby, characterized by its distinctive salmon pink color.
From February 20-22, look back at the moon to see how it moves across the winter circle – or the winter hexagon – and gets a little fuller each evening.
The winter circle (below) is a well-known pattern of six bright stars that spans a vast region of the sky.
“Like their counterparts, the summer triangle, winter circle and winter triangle are signposts of the season,” explains NASA. “In the northern hemisphere, you will see how they rise in the east in the early evening in the time of long, cold nights and set earlier and earlier in the west as the season turns to spring.”
The moon will also visit the so-called “twins of the twins”. The two bright stars – Castor and Pollux – form the heads of the inseparable twins from Roman and Greek mythology, after which the constellation is named. Twins can be seen high up in the south throughout February, with the moon paying a visit on February 23 (you will see it just below Pollux).
To learn more about what’s going to happen in the night sky in February 2021, visit NASA’s website, which is all you need to know.