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What's Up...
Some observing hilights
to look forward to...



The following tips on current and upcoming astronomical events
have been gathered from magazines and other sources by Dave Gamble
with the objective of giving OC RASC members a heads-up on
special personal
astro-experiences to look forward to.


Sat. Feb. 1  -  The spring window to observe the Zodiacal light is opening up. Under dark sky conditions, look for a pyramid of faint, hazy light stretching up from the western horizon. You will be looking at light being scattered by the leftover dust in the Sun's equatorial plane.

Sun. Feb. 2 - This is First Quarter Moon night with our neatly divided neighbour on station high in the southern sky inviting binocular and telescope exploration of its cratered terminator.

Sun. Feb. 2 - With clear skies, this might be the perfect time to add a view of Vesta, the fourth but brightest of the asteroids. Tonight the minor planet will be located about a moon width to the south of our neighbour in Taurus. Look for a 5th magnitude object in that vicinity.

Wed. Feb. 5 - The waxing gibbous Moon will be close to Messier 35 in the sky tonight. The open cluster is one of the highlights in Gemini.

Thurs. Feb. 6 - Have you noticed brilliant Venus in the southwest evening sky? Tonight Mercury can be seen some distance to its lower right for those who have access to a low southwestern horizon.

Sat. Feb. 8 -  Algol the Devil Star will put on a performance this evening. The eclipsing binary star will be at minimum brightness from 8.10pm to 10.10pm. You might compare its brightness with neighbouring stars in Perseus after nightfall and then again in mid eclipse around 9pm to detect the difference.

Sun. Feb. 9 – This is Full Moon night with Selene taking advantage of winter snow cover to light up Okanagan scenes.

Mon. Feb. 10 - Mercury is as busy as ever, though it will briefly pause tonight as it reaches greatest eastern elongation. Since its orbit never allows it to wander very far from the Sun, it will still be a challenge to locate very low above the western horizon at nightfall.

Sat. Feb. 15 - This is Last Quarter Moon night. The reverse lit half sphere will rise low in the southeast sky in the wee hours. The next dark moon period is approaching which will assist observers who look forward to exploring deep sky objects.

Tues. Feb. 18 - One of the most exciting astronomical events of 2020 will be underway at dawn this morning, however you will need a low southeastern horizon to catch it. Given a clear view to the southeast, the waning crescent Moon will rise into the sky hiding Mars behind it. At around 4.45am Mars will be seen reappearing from the dark limb side. Since the sky will still be dark, a consolation prize for those missing the egress will be seeing the crescent Moon very close in the sky indeed to the red planet.

Wed. Feb. 19 - The waning crescent Moon will visit the vicinity of Jupiter low in the southeast pre-dawn sky this morning. Mars will be just to the left of the crescent above the handle of the Sagittarius teapot asterism.

Thurs. Feb. 20 - Keeping track of the planets entering the pre-dawn sky, the thin fingernail paring crescent Moon will appear just below the ringed planet Saturn low in the southeast before daybreak.

Sun. Feb. 23 - This is New Moon night. Our neighbour is tucked away in the Sun's direction leaving the night sky open for deep sky exploration and imaging providing the weatherman cooperates.

Mon. Feb. 24  -  The spring window to observe the Zodiacal light continues to open up and the opportunity to observe it will be at its best for the coming two weeks. Under dark sky conditions, look for a pyramid of faint, hazy light stretching up from the western horizon before dawn.

Thurs. Feb. 27 - Already beginning another circuit of the night sky, the thin crescent Moon will appear only about the width of three fingers east of brilliant Venus low in the western sky after nightfall.

Fri. Feb. 28 – Tonight will provide another opportunity to catch Algol in its dimming act. The ‘Devil Star’, as it was once known, will be at the midpoint of its minimum brightness at 7.55pm.  Its brightness could be compared with neighbouring stars in Perseus around 8pm, and then again after 9.30pm when it will have regained its usual brightness.