Friday, April 8, 2011

February 2011

Well folks, we would usually say that the chilly weather lends itself well to sky watching, and it certainly would if all those nasty rain clouds would leave us alone! Maybe we will have a few clear nights when we can catch some glimpses of these great things this month. Be sure to bundle up!

This month expect to see a new moon. OK, well, there is no moon to see. The new moon phase is the opposite of the full moon. Instead of seeing a head-on, full view of the moon, it is nowhere to be seen in the sky from our position on the globe. At least the means you can take advantage of the darker skies to see everything else!

Image credit: SDO/HMI, SDO/AIA.
For the braver souls out there (with the proper observation tools for sun watching, of course), there are a few small sunspots right now. There was a recent hole in the sun's coronasphere that blasted Earth's magnasphere with a good-sized solar storm, but no need to worry; it happens all the time. No harm done. Always remember to never look directly at the sun; take extra-special precautions, and make sure you always use the proper technology that was designed by professionals just for the task. Burning your vision away by staring at the sun make for very poor sky watching, after all, and we certainly would not want that!

For the more serious sky watchers, check out comet 103/P Hartley coursing through he constellation Monoceros this month. You will need at least an 8" telescope to see it, though; this is no casual observation.

February is also an excellent month to get a great view of the constellations Pegasus, Andromeda, Taurus (including galaxy M31), and Orion. while you are at it, the Pleiades in Taurus are a great target for binoculars, and are one of our favorites!

Venus appears as our morning star this month, near the constellation Sagittarius, and Mars will be in a conjunction of sorts, actually on the far side of the sun. Lastly, catch a glimpse of Jupiter going down after sunset, still in the constellation Pisces.

For more information or for tips on star gazing, call 229-432-6955.

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