This month promises to provide some good opportunities for naked-eye viewing as we continue with cool winter nights, and (hopefully) clear skies:
Five planets before sunrise: about 45-60 minutes before sunrise, you can still view all five of the planets visible with the naked eye. Look for Jupiter in the southwest, and proceed to Mars, Saturn, Venus, and Mercury towards the southeast. The moon does start rising early in the morning this month, but it is also waning, so shouldn’t cause too much interference. Mercury will be particularly striking on February 7. In addition, the moon will be on the other side of the Earth at night on February 8. Discover magazine has a good blog about how to view this event.
Feb. 1 – The moon will be in conjunction with Mars in the early morning hours, rising in the southern sky, with the closest approach occurring in the constellation Libra.
Feb. 3 – Now it is Saturn’s turn to meet the moon, again in the early morning hours.
Feb 23. – Jupiter greets the moon, rising in the east and reaching their highest point, at least here in the Pacific Northwest, at 01:24. Look for their closet approach in the constellation Leo.
Feb. 29 – Mars and the moon meet up once again in the southern sky in the early morning hours, at 01:31.
Moon: The New Moon will be on February 8, which of course promises means some good stargazing. The full moon will be on February 23.
Remember that any of the times listed here need to be adjusted for your locality. For example, the times for most of the planetary conjunctions with the moon are about 30 mins earlier in my hometown of Sacramento. Your best bet is to use a resource like In-The-Sky.org, which will make adjustments based on your location.
Happy viewing! Pax.