February

Tuesday 19 September 2017 - 22:20:39 Posted by  Bobby

 The Night Skies of February

Sirius, the brightest star, is visible in the evening sky at all latitudes, while observers in the south can also see Canopus, the second-brightest star. High in southern skies are the three constellations - Carina, Puppis, and Vela - that the ancient Greeks regarded as one: Argo Navis, the ship of Jason and the Argonauts.

 Top 2 Constellations For February

 Canis Major (The Greater Dog)

canismajor2

 Mythology of Canis Major

Canis Major is one of the most prominent constellations, Canis Major is embellished by the brightest of all stars, Sirius. It depicts the larger of the two dogs belonging to Orion, the hunter (the other being represented by Canis Minor). As the Earth rotates, the dogs seem to follow the hunter across the sky.

 The Facts

  • Depiction: The Greater Dog
  • Pronounced: KAY-nis-MAY-jer
  • Genitive: Canis Majoris
  • Abbreviation: CMa
  • Highest in the Sky: January to February
  • Size Ranking: 43rd
  • Coverage Area: 380 Sq. Degrees
  • Right Acension: 7 hours
  • Declination: -20°
  • Visibility: 55°N to 90°S

 Notable Objects

  • Alpha Canis Majoris: Sirius the Dog star
  • M41: Open star cluster
  • NGC 2354: Open star cluster
  • NGC 2362: Open star cluster
  • NGC 2359: Thor's Helmet (Emission Nebula)

 Named Stars

  • Sirius, Alpha Canis Majoris
  • Mirzam, Beta Canis Majoris
  • Muliphein, Gamma Canis Majoris 
  • Wezen, Delta Canis Majoris
  • Adara, Epsilon Canis Majoris
  • Furud, Zeta Canis Majoris
  • Aludra, Eta Canis Majoris

 Best Viewed Objects/Stars

Alpha Canis Majoris

 Sirius is brightest star in the sky, at magnitude -1.44. Sirius emits the light of about 20 of our Suns. This luminosity is not unusual, but because of its relative closeness to us (it is 8.6 light-years away), Sirius outshines all other stars. It is white, but when low on the horizon it often appears to flash colorfully as its light is broken up by air currents in the Earth's atmosphere. Sirius is a close double star, with a companion that orbits it every 50 years. This companion, Sirius B, popularly termed the Pup, it is a white dwarf nearly 10,000 times fainter than Sirius itself. Hence it can only be seen through a large telescope when the two stars are farthest apart during each orbit.

M41

M41 is an open cluster containing about 80 stars of 7th magnitude and fainter, about 2,300 light-years away. It can just be seen with the naked eye, and was known to the ancient Greeks. Binoculars or a small telescope reveal that its stars are arranged in chains. It covers an area of sky about the size of the full Moon.

NGC 2362

NGC 2362 is an open cluster, small and condensed, requiring a small telescope in order to be studied properly. Its brightest member is the 4th magnitude star Tau Canis Majoris, which is a highly luminous blue supergiant. The cluster lies about 5,000 light-years away.

 Leo (The Lion)

leo4

 Mythology of Leo

Leo is a large and impressive constellation that depicts a crouching lion. In Greek myth, this was the lion that hercules killed as one of his 12 labors. Leo is a constellation of the Zodiac, lying between Cancer and Virgo. The Sun passes through it from August 10th to September 16th.

 The Facts

  • Depiction: The Lion
  • Pronounced: LEE-oh
  • Genitive: Leonis
  • Abbreviation: Leo
  • Highest in the Sky: March to April
  • Size Ranking: 12th
  • Coverage Area: 947 Sq. Degrees
  • Right Acension: 11 hours
  • Declination: 15°
  • Visibility: 90°N to 59°S

 Notable Objects

  • Gamma Leonis: Binary star system
  • Trio in Leo: Triple spiral galaxies
  • M95: Barred spiral galaxy
  • M96: Spiral Galaxy
  • M105: Elliptical galaxy
  • NGC 2903: Barred spiral galaxy
  • NGC 3384: Elliptical galaxy
  • NGC 3432: Spiral galaxy

 Named Stars

  • Regulus, Alpha Leonis
  • Denebola, Beta Leonis
  • Algieba, Gamma Leonis
  • Zosma, Delta Leonis
  • Ras Elased Australis, Epsilon Leonis
  • Adhafera, Zeta Leonis
  • Chertan, Theta Leonis
  • Alterf, Lambda Leonis
  • Ros Elased Borealis, Mu Leonis
  • Subra, Omicron Leonis

 Best Viewed Objects/Stars

The Sickle

 An easy reconizable pattern of six stars, shaped like a reverse question mark or a hook, which forms the head and chest of the lion. It consists of the stars Epsilon, Mu, Zeta, Gamma, Eta, and Alpha Leonis.

Alpha Leonis (Regulus)

 The faintest of the first-magnitude stars, magnitude 1.4. It is a blue-white star about 77 light years away. Binoculars or a small telescope show that it is a wide companion of 8th magnitude.

Gamma Leonis

 A glorious double star consisting of two golden orange giants of magnitudes 2.4 and 3.6, which make an excellent sight through a small telescope. They are a genuine binary pair, orbiting each other every 500 years or so. Binoculars (or even sharp eyesight, show a much wider 5th-magnitude star, 40 Leonis, which is unrelated.

Zeta Leonis

 A wide triple formed by unrelated stars. Zeta itself is of magnitude 3.4. Binoculars show a 6th-magnitude star, 35 Leonis, to its north. Farther south is 39 Leonis, also of 6th magnitude.

R Leonis

 A red-giant Mira variable ranging in brightness between about 4th and 11th magnitudes every 10 months or so.

M65 & M66

 Two 9th-magnitude spiral galaxies visible with a small telescope. Being tilted at an angle to us, they appear elliptical.

M95 & M96

 A pair of spiral galaxies visible through a small telescope as elongated smudges. They lie at similar distances to M65 and M66, namely 30-35 million light-years.

 Features of Interest (Jan/Feb)

 Castor of Gemini

castor
 This star, also known as Alpha Geminorum, can be seen as a close double through a telescope with magnification of about 100 times. The two stars orbit each other about every 450 years. There are other stars connected to Castor by gravity, too , completing a family of six stars in all, including a pair of faint red dwarfs. All six stars formed from the same cloud of gas.

 M41 (Open Cluster in Canis Major)

m41
 Observers in high northern latitudes often overlook this open cluster 4 degrees south of Sirius because from their locations it lies close to the horizon. However, it is easy to see with binoculars and can be detected with the naked eye under favorable conditions.

 NGC 2244 (Rosette Nebula in Monoceros)

2244
 The brightest members of this large open cluster are easily visible through binoculars. The stars are arranged in a rectangle, but the brightest of them, 6th-magnitude 12 Monocerotis, is a foreground object. The cluster lies at the center of the Rosette Nebula NGC 2237, a flower-like loop of gas that shows up well only on photographs.

 The Winter Triangle

wintertriangle
 Three brilliant stars in separate constellations form an equilateral triangle in the skies of northern winter and southern summer. Sirius in Canis Major forms the southern apex, while Betelgeuse (top right) in Orion and Procyon (top left) in Canis Minor complete the figure. The Winter Triangle straddles the celestial equator and is clearly visible from all latitudes.

 Meteor Shower Activity

February Meteor Showers
(None)
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 Also Visible This Month

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