This Week’s Celestial Events in the Night Sky


The article discusses the celestial highlights that can be observed in the second week of February 2024. The main attraction is the appearance of the crescent moon in the early evening, which will gradually grow in size as it passes Jupiter.

On Monday, February 12, a 13% lit waxing crescent moon will be visible after sunset, slightly higher in the southwestern sky, and will stay in the sky a bit longer. Observers can also notice “Earthshine” on the dark side of the crescent moon, a phenomenon caused by sunlight reflected from Earth’s ice-caps and clouds onto the moon’s surface. Jupiter will be visible far above the moon.

The following day, the crescent moon will be 21% lit and will remain in the sky slightly longer. On Wednesday, February 14, the moon will grow to 32% lit and will be closer to Jupiter, the brightest planet in the night sky.

On Friday, February 16, the moon will reach its First Quarter stage, appearing half-lit from Earth’s surface. On this day, stargazers will have a chance to see the Pleiades open cluster, also known as the “Seven Sisters” or M45, near the moon. The cluster’s brightest star, Alcyone, will be approximately three degrees to the moon’s right.

The article also introduces NASA’s latest app, Spot The Station, for iOS and Android smartphones. The app provides a 3-D representation of Earth and shows the current path of the International Space Station (ISS) around it. The ISS is usually visible around sunset and sunrise, as the sunlight is reflected off the spacecraft’s solar panels.

The article concludes with a stargazing tip about the moon’s libration. The moon is tidally locked to Earth, always showing the same face, but it wobbles, revealing about 59% of its surface over a year. This wobble, known as libration, is depicted in an animation from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, showing the moon’s movement in 2023.

For the most accurate location-specific stargazing information, the article suggests consulting online planetariums like Stellarium and The Sky Live. It also recommends checking the times for planet-rise/planet-set, sunrise/sunset, and moonrise/moonset for the observer’s location.



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