Weekly stargazing tips 2.1

Feb. 1 Last-Quarter Moon
The Moon is at last-quarter at 11:27pm tomorrow. At that moment,
the Moon is three-fourths of the way through its cycle of phases.
Sunlight illuminates half of the lunar disk that faces Earth, so
the line between night and day is straight and sharp.
Feb. 1 Last-Quarter Moon

The Moon is at last-quarter at 11:27pm tomorrow. At that moment, the Moon is three-fourths of the way through its cycle of phases. Sunlight illuminates half of the lunar disk that faces Earth, so the line between night and day is straight and sharp.

Feb. 2 Groundhog Day

If the groundhog sees his shadow this morning, folklore says we will have six more weeks of winter. Groundhog Day is one commemoration of a “cross-quarter” day, which falls halfway between a solstice and an equinox. In many cultures, the cross-quarter days have marked the beginnings of the seasons.

Feb. 3 Moon and Antares

The Moon and the star Antares appear close together early tomorrow. They are low in the southeast at first light, with orange Antares a little to the upper right of the Moon.

Feb. 4 Moon and Mars

Mars keeps company with the Moon as they peek above the southeastern horizon before dawn tomorrow. Mars looks like a fairly bright yellow-orange star to the Moon’s upper left.

Feb. 5 Canis Major

The brightest star in the night sky has some teeth to it. It’s the Dog Star, Sirius, which is in the constellation Canis Major, the big dog. Sirius is well up in the southeast this evening, with most of the other stars of Canis Major stretching below it.

Feb. 6 Leo

Look well up in the east this evening for Leo, the lion. A pattern of stars that looks like a backwards question mark outlines Leo’s head and mane. The star at the bottom of the question mark is Regulus, one of the brightest stars in the night sky.

Feb. 7 Thuban

Draco, the dragon, is an ancient constellation. One of its stars, Thuban, marks one of its coils. Fifty centuries ago, Thuban stood at the north celestial pole. That made Thuban the North Star. But Earth’s polar axis shifts, so today, the North Star is Polaris.

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