February 19-21: The bright moon moves through the constellation Taurus. Use a binocular to see the starry background with the moon.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
During latter February, the bright moon is visible in front of the stars of Taurus. A binocular helps to identify the starry background as the moon waxes in its gibbous phase.
Aldebaran is the brightest star in the constellation. Notice that with the check-mark shape of the Hyades, the star forms a “V” to represent the head of Taurus. The Pleaides star cluster rides on the Bull’s back. Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau on the chart) and Elnath represent creature’s horns.
Here’s what to look for:
- February 19: The moon is at its First Quarter phase at 12:47 p.m. CST. One hour after sunset, the moon, 52% illuminated, is high in the south-southwest. It is nearly between Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus, and Alcyone, in the Pleiades. The moon is below an imaginary line that extends between the stars, 7.2° to the upper right of Aldebaran and 6.6° to the lower left of Alcyone.
- February 20: Look for the gibbous moon (62% illuminated) high in the south-southeast at about an hour after sunset. The lunar orb is 7.9° to the upper left of Aldebaran and 9.1° to the right of Zeta Tauri, the Southern Horn of Taurus.
- February 21: One hour after sunset, the moon – 71% illuminated – is high in the southeastern sky. It is 4.4° to the upper left of ζ Tau.
Read more about the planets during February.
July 6, 2021: In less than a week, brilliant Venus passes Mars in the west-northwestern sky after sunset. This evening the two planets are 3.8° apart. Venus is over 18° to the lower right of the star Regulus.
July 1 – July 7, 2021, the waning crescent appears in the eastern sky. Early in the viewing period, the moon is among the dim stars of Pisces. As the week progresses, the moon wanes and moves farther eastward, appearing near Taurus.
July 5, 2021: Our planet Earth reaches its farthest point in its yearly trek around the sun. Our seasons are not related to Earth’s distance from the sun. Coincidentally, the moon is at its farthest point from Earth today.
July 5, 2021: Venus continues to close in on Mars in the west-northwest after sunset. In a week Venus passes the Red Planet.
July 4, 2021: The Venus – Mars conjunction is eight days away. This evening Venus moves to within 5° of the Red Planet.