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Night sky this month – February


Highlights: Jupiter bright.

Here is a view of the night sky this month as seen from mid-northern latitudes such as London or New York in mid February, 2016, at 10pm (22h UT).

The planets in February 2016

Mercury starts the month in the evening sky but it never gets very high above the south-western horizon from northerly latitudes.

Venus continues to shine brilliantly in the morning sky, in the constellation of Virgo. The planet, which resembles a little gibbous moon through a telescope, is gradually drawing back onwards the Sun but remains a prominent pre-dawn object through the end of the year.

Mars is another morning planet, also in Virgo, but much less bright than Venus at magnitude +1.4. It will steadily brighten over the next few months as it approaches opposition, its closest approach to Earth, in May 2016. Find out more about Mars here including maps to show its position in the sky.

Jupiter is a very bright object in Leo, shining at magnitude -2. It now rises well before midnight. A small telescope will reveal the bands on this gas giant’s cloud tops and the four main moons strung out either side of it.

Saturn is now in the morning sky, rising at magnitude +0.4 an hour or two before dawn.

Note: The sky will appear much the same from other cities at similar latitudes, such as New York, Paris and Berlin, at around 10pm local time. The sky appears the same at the start of the month an hour later and at the end of the month an hour earlier. We use Virtual Sky, a new, customizable, browser-based planetarium, courtesy of Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network. Click on the date or location to the top left of the chart to view the sky at a different time or from another longitude and latitude. If you want to check out the sky as seen from the southern hemisphere, click here.