February 2022 Night Sky Events in both Virginia

(WVNS) – Stormtracker59 Meteorologist Bradley Wells is back with another look at upcoming celestial events that will delight our region throughout the month. With February upon us, those of us in both Virginias will be treated to upright Orion, the Snow Moon, and some remarkable planetary alignments! Be sure to bookmark this page so you and your family can enjoy all that the February night sky has to offer.

The following events are marked below for your convenience.
NAKED EYE EVENT: The event is visible without the aid of binoculars or telescopes in dark sky conditions.
TELESCOPE EVENT: Event is enhanced by using or requires a recreational telescope or binoculars
LARGE TELESCOPE EVENT: A large professional telescope (8-10 inches) is required to view the event.

FEBRUARY (ALL MONTH): NUDE EYE EVENT – Calling all teachers and parents! The 28-day month of February is a perfect month to follow the phases of the moon with your children. February 1 begins with the new moon and then goes through all phases until the new moon on March 2. Print the calendar below to black out the phase of the moon throughout the month! A pencil, pencil or marker will do. Once complete, you’ll have a complete overview of how the moon “grows” and “shrinks” throughout the month. (Teachers looking for a larger version to print for the class, contact by email at: [email protected])

Print this calendar to track the phases of the moon throughout the month!

FEBRUARY (ALL MONTH) – ORION THE HUNTER: NUDE EYE EVENT – This time of year, the constellation Orion is visible on the southern horizon. Orion is one of the brightest constellations, making Orion’s early evening the best time to see it. With the naked eye, Orion’s famous belt at the Red SuperGiant Star Beetlejuice can be found.

Betelgeuse against the solar system |  Edited Southern Europe… |  Flickr
The size of Red Giant Beetlejuice relative to our solar system. Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/35174545860

Beetlejuice was the star that dimmed significantly, causing fears/anticipation of the star supernova explosion from December 2019 to January 2020. The star ejected large amounts of material that prevented its light from shining. reach Earth. Either way, Beetlejuice is a Red Giant star to watch.

The Great Orion Nebula (M42) |  It's a bit noisy and the color… |  Flickr
Orion Nebula. Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/opoterser/3189531858

TELESCOPE EVENT – A cluster of three stars just below Orion’s belt is a treat for those with a telescope. The Orion Nebula can be found with Orion and the cold February nights make for excellent conditions for viewing and photographing. The larger your telescope, the better your view will be with this amazing nebula.

FEBRUARY 7 – APOLLO LANDING SITES: TELESCOPE EVENT – If the sky is clear, take advantage of it and turn your attention to the nearby half moon. That night, the moon’s terminator will guide you to the landing sites of Apollo 7 and 11. Follow the terminator to the equator, and the landing sites will be on the northeast and southeast side. east of this junction.

FEBRUARY 8 – MERCURY RISES: NUDE EYE EVENT – The planet closest to our sun, Mercury, is usually carried away by our sun. But on the morning of February 8, just before sunrise, Mercury will rise above the horizon ahead of the sun. Making it a great time to see the rocky planet.
TELESCOPE EVENT: This will be one of the few times telescope users will be able to gaze upon Mercury without filters for an extended period before the sun rises.

File:Three planets dancing on La Silla.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Venus and Mercury Photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Three_Planets_Dance_Over_La_Silla.jpg

FEBRUARY 9 – VENUS SHINES BRIGHT: NUDE EYE EVENT – Our sister planet Venus will increase lumens on the morning of February 9. Look southeast along the horizon and Venus will greet you as the brightest object in the sky just before sunrise.

FEBRUARY 11 – PLANET PARTY: NUDE EYE EVENT – In the early morning southeast sky, the planets Venus, Mars and Mercury meet before setting. These three will seem to be getting closer to each other this morning as they go to bed. Venus shines brightest of the three and Mars will be unmistakable with its classic red glow. Mercury will appear as a dimmer star near the horizon.
LARGE TELESCOPE EVENT: Those with a powerful telescope can use all three planets to find the dwarf planet, Pluto. Pluto will be located just southwest of Mars this morning.

FEBRUARY 16 – SNOW MOON NUDE EYE EVENT– The full moon in February is known as the “snow moon”. It received this name because February is usually the snowiest month for the entire United States. For our region, January exceeds February in total snowfall in most years. Other names given by Native American tribes in the past were the “Bald Eagle Moon”, “Bear Moon”, “Raccoon Moon”, and the “Groundhog Moon”. For those following the moon tracker, the moon will begin to get “smaller” as it returns to the New Moon.

Full Moon |  A full moon rises over the mountains.  (NPS photo… | Flickr
Snow moon over the Rockies: Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/denalinps/14232964385

FEBRUARY 21 – MINOR SHOWER NUDE EYE EVENT– Although February isn’t known for its big meteor showers, those hoping to catch a shooting star will have their best luck on this night. The Alpha Centaurid meteor shower peaks tonight. This will be for the brave, as February nights can be chilly and this meteor shower only has around 5 meteors per hour. Look to the southwest sky in the darkest possible sky for best viewing.

Perseid meteor shower |  22 exposures of 1 minute with meteors … |  Flickr
Perseid meteor shower Photo credit: Eric Gorski https://www.flickr.com/photos/eag/9512431565

FEBRUARY 27 – PARTY CRASHER NUDE EYE EVENT– Venus and Mars have spent the month sharing the same portion of the morning sky. On the morning of the 27th, our crescent moon joins the party by slipping between the two planets. This setup is perfect for landscape photographers looking to add a little something extra to their sunrise shots.

Moon, Mars and Venus setting over Mount Whitney |  I identify… |  Flickr
Moon, Venus and Mars Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreysullivan/16605602126

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