DR. SKY BLOG

In February, skywatchers will see beautiful full snow moon, maybe even a comet

Jan 25, 2023, 2:30 PM

(Pixabay Photo)...

(Pixabay Photo)

(Pixabay Photo)

With February, the month of love, just around the corner, a comet, a nice array of planets and the beauty of the full snow moon await your attention!

There is a lot of activity brewing with the new comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) as it streaks along our skies. This comet has received a lot of attention in the media and some of it is not accurate.

Many internet sources give the impression that for some reason, the comet (ZTF) is a very bright and easy object to view, due to its upcoming close proximity to Earth.

Truth be told, Comet (ZTF) is coming close to Earth by some 26,000,000 million miles on Feb. 2, but it will remain a binocular or telescope object for most city dwellers, to say the least.

I have observed the comet from my location in Phoenix in the early morning sky and even in moonless city skies. The comet was just a small puff of an object.

The comet may get a bit brighter over the next few weeks and will remain in our February skies, all night for northern hemisphere observers.

To get the best information on the location, magnitude and distance, we suggest this informative link.

The comet will move closer to the North Star, Polaris, by Jan. 29, and make a very close pass by Mars on the evening of Feb. 10, by a degree or so.

Seeing the comet is just incredible, as the last time it returned to the vicinity of the sun was some 50,000 years ago. Comets have nothing but time!

The moon puts on its regular show next month with the second full moon of the year Feb. 5 at 11:29 a.m. Arizona time.

Look for the full snow moon rising in the east just after sunset as it brightens up our skies.

The last quarter moon is Feb. 13; the moon then becomes a waning crescent in our early morning skies. The return of the new moon is Feb. 20. This is always the best time to view faint sky objects like the comet and other deep sky objects.

The waxing crescent moon is now visible low in the southwest sky at dusk by Feb. 22.

On that evening, the moon will pass within 2 degrees of Venus after sunset.

An amazing sight to see! Jupiter is also in the same area of the sky to add to the splendor.

of the Valentine season. Jupiter and Venus have that special love connection in the sky that night too!

For those with large telescopes, we get a very close conjunction of Venus with Neptune on the evening of Feb. 15, as Venus grazes Neptune by some 45 seconds of arc at 5:19 a.m. Arizona time.

By the evening of Feb. 15, observers after sunset may get to still view this close event. Venus is very bright, but Neptune is very faint. Here are the details on this and other close conjunctions for 2023.

If you miss this rare event, get set for an easy and most amazing conjunction of Venus and Jupiter on the evening of March 1. Both planets will be within a full moon diameter
in the southwest sky at sunset. This is one of the best conjunctions of all of 2023!

Finally, a nice link to get us into the spirit of Valentine’s Day!

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.

Podcasts are available here.

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In February, skywatchers will see beautiful full snow moon, maybe even a comet