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.
March 18, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn are visible in the southeastern sky as sunup approaches. Jupiter is the brighter planet, but it is low in the east-southeast. Saturn is to the Jovian Giant’s upper right. During the early evening, the waxing crescent moon is in the western sky near the Pleiades star cluster and below Mars. The Red Planet is moving eastward in Taurus.
March 17, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeastern sky before sunrise. During the early evening the lunar crescent is about one-third of the way up in the sky to the upper left of Hamal, the brightest star in Aries. Mars is higher in the sky in Taurus. This evening it makes a pretty triangle with two dim stars.
March 16, 2021: Jupiter and Saturn are low in the southeastern sky before sunrise. During the evening the lunar crescent displays earthshine, while Mars continues to march eastward through the starfields of Taurus.