In the month of February there are plenty of reasons to look up towards the starry sky. As Venus and Mars remain faithful companions in the early evening sky – Venus as the brighter of the two will reveal itself in all its icy beauty with the orange Mars staying just above it. And if you feel Winter is dragging on for too long, you can find some consolation in one of the first signs of spring, the constellation Leo, as it appears in the eastern evening sky, and clears the horizon by around nightfall at month’s end.
In the first week of February star gazers will be amazed at Gomeisa, the second-brightest star of Canis Minor, the little dog. It is now in the east at nightfall, above the much brighter Procyon, the constellation’s leading light. Gomeisa is several times larger and more massive than the Sun, so it will be easy to spot.
Another beautiful constellation – Pegasus, the flying horse, stands low in the west as darkness falls and sets before midnight. If you want to catch a glimpse of the mythological creature, simply look for four moderately bright stars that form the Great Square of Pegasus. And just a few short days before Valentine’s Day there will be a Faint Eclipse that will see the Moon lining up for a pass through Earth’s long shadow. As it will pass through the bright outer part of the shadow, few moonwatchers are likely to notice much difference.
Still, these and plenty of other twinkling reasons give you an excuse to head to The Raritan Valley Community College Planetarium in Branchburg. There will be several star and laser shows for the entire family in February that are sure to captivate the audiences with revealing secrets about our beautiful and mystic universe.