Welcome to February, space fans, and more importantly welcome back to our monthly rundown of astronomy-related events.
We were spoiled last month with a rare three-planet conjunction between Mercury, Saturn and Jupiter. So what’s on the cards for Australian space-watchers in February?
February’s astronomy highlights
February is a bit of a let-down after the stellar December and January line-up. But there are still a few things worth seeing in the night sky this month.
Venus and Jupiter conjunction
On February 11-12 stargazers will get the chance to catch the conjunction between Venus and Jupiter. This is predicted to be a particularly good view for us in the Southern Hemisphere, according to EarthSky, but those wanting to catch it will need to be up before sunrise.
For those interested in space launches, a couple of things are happening on Mars this month. The United Arab Emirates’ Hope orbiter is due to arrive in Mars’ orbit on February 9.
The Tianwen-1 from China will arrive soon after on February 10 and circle Mars for a few months before deploying its rover later in May.
NASA’s perseverance rover is due to land at the 45km-wide Jezero Crater on February 18 to begin collecting samples which will eventually be returned to Earth.
There are also a few unscheduled rocket launches for February that you can keep an eye on here.
Other astronomy dates in February
You probably won’t be able to catch the Mars mission arrivals on your telescope from home but you can watch a few of them live. For everything else, grab your telescope or your binoculars and get ready.
- February 8: Peak of the a-Centaurids meteor shower.
- February 9: Hope orbiter arrives at Mars.
- February 10: Tianwen-1 arrives at Mars.
- February 11: New Moon.
- February 11-12: Venus and Jupiter conjunction.
- February 15: Canopus, the second brightest star, clearly visible.
- February 18: NASA’s Perseverance rover arrives on Mars.
- February 18: Conjunction of the Moon and Mars.
- February 23: Mercury and Saturn quasi-conjunction.
- February 26: Full moon.
Happy stargazing everyone. See you next month!