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What's in the Sky — February 2019

Clear February nights present some great stargazing opportunities. Be sure to bundle up and keep warm while you get outside for some stargazing fun!
Here are a few of Orion's top picks for February stargazing:

New Moon
February 4 should be one of the best nights for deep-sky viewing as the New Moon phase will provide the darkest night of the short month. Use Orion Broadband Filters to enhance your view.

Pretty Pairing
On February 18 just before dawn, the bright planets Venus and Saturn pose just 1 degree apart. You'll find them low in the southeastern sky. Venus is on top.

On February 19 be sure to witness the largest Moon of 2019 — the second "supermoon" of 2019! This is a good opportunity to capture a photograph of the rising supermoon behind an interesting foreground with just a camera and tripod.

Zodiacal Light
Starting on February 22 and for the next two weeks, the zodiacal light is visible in the evening from a dark sky. Look to the western horizon as dusk transitions to darkness, about an hour and a half to two hours after sunset, to see its upward pointing triangular glow.

Since Mercury's orbit is closer to the Sun than the Earth's, it's typically difficult to observe most times. Setting shortly after the Sun on February 26, this will be one of the best chances to glimpse the smallest and innermost planet in the Solar System.

Bright Galaxies
In late February, bright galaxies M81 & M82 will be about as high in the sky as they will get for North American stargazers. From a dark sky site, these galaxies are visible with a 50mm or larger binocular, but we suggest you use a large telescope to chase these galaxies down just off the leading edge of the Big Dipper asterism. Many observers consider M81 & M82 the best pairing of visual galaxies in the sky!

All objects described above can easily be seen with the suggested equipment from a dark sky site, a viewing location some distance away from city lights where light pollution and when bright moonlight does not overpower the stars.