Night sky in February – southern hemisphere
Highlights: Jupiter bright.
Here is a view of the night sky this month as seen from mid-southern latitudes such as Sydney (-33° 52′) in mid February, 2016, at 10pm local time.
The planets in February 2016
Mercury may be caught in binoculars in the first half of February, low in the pre-dawn sky. But it never gets very high above the horizon from mid-northern latitudes this apparition.
Venus is fast heading back towards the Sun in the morning sky, and only rises as twilight begins, shining low down at magnitude -3.9.
Mars is steadily brightening in Libra as it heads towards opposition when it will be around its closest to Earth in May. Its magnitude rises from +0.8 to +0.3 during February, and its apparent diameter grows too, allowing larger amateur telescopes to see a hint of its markings. Find out more about Mars here including maps to show its position in the sky.
Jupiter is heading towards a March opposition, shining brightly at magnitude -2.5 in Leo. A small telescope will show the banding in its cloud tops, and the four brightest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto can be spotted in binoculars.
Saturn is easily found now in the morning sky, shining at magnitude 0.5 in Scorpius, and resembling a bright star. Though it is low down for northern hemisphere observers, a small telescope will show its amazing ring system.
Note: The sky will appear much the same from other cities at similar latitudes, such as Perth or Wellington, at around 10pm local time. Imagine holding it over your head so that the centre of the chart is the zenith and the edge runs all the way around your horizon. 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 customizable, browser-based planetarium, courtesy of Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network. Tip: The chart is interactive. Click on the date or location to the top left of the chart to view the sky at a different time or from another location. If you want to check out the sky as seen from the northern hemisphere, click here.