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.
- 2023, December 26: Cold Moon, Venus, Jupiter, SaturnDecember 26, 2023: The Cold Moon is visible during the nighttime hours. Venus shines before sunrise while Jupiter and Saturn are visible after sundown.
- 2023, December 25: Telescope First Light, Bright PlanetsDecember 25, 2023: For sky watchers with new telescopes, here’s what to look at before dawn or after sunset.
- 2023, December 24: Morning Moon, Pleiades, Antares Heliacal RisingDecember 24, 2023: The moon appears near the Pleiades star cluster during the earlier morning hours. Antares is at its first morning appearance, known as the heliacal rising.
- 2023, December 23: Check out Planet Uranus, Pleiades near MoonDecember 23, 2023: Look for the planet Uranus and the Pleiades star cluster through a binocular during nighttime hours.
- 2023, December 22: Mercury at Inferior Conjunction, Bright Jupiter, Gibbous MoonDecember 22, 2023: Mercury is between Earth and Sun, known as inferior conjunction. Jupiter and the gibbous moon are celestial companions during nighttime hours.