• iceberg
  • boy with flowers
  • checking water quality
  • planet eclipse
  • solarsystem model
  • rangitoto trees
  • kids with test tubes
  • kids with earth
  • snowy mountains
  • teens in physics class
  • Rainbow Clouds

    Refraction and diffraction of light through ice crystals in the clouds

  • Philippa On The Ice

    Philippa On The Ice Philippa Werry at an Antarctic research camp 2016

New Zealand Science Teacher

Science Curriculum/Scientific Literacy

Sky spotter: the February night sky

There are treasures to be found in the summer sky.

starsIn early February, Jupiter rises at about 10.30pm and earlier each night.  A nearly full moon rises with Jupiter at 9pm on the 24th.

Just before dawn, all five naked eye planets are seen, from Jupiter in the northwest to Mercury just south of east.

Mars is left of the Scorpion’s head, and below its red heart, Antares, is Saturn.

Low in the sky, a brilliant Venus pairs up with Mercury all month. By early February, a waning moon sweeps by the early morning planets.

Three stars -- Peacock, Alnair, and Fomalhaut form a crooked line close and parallel to the southwestern horizon just after sunset.

High above Alnair is bright Achernar of Eridanus (the river). A star chart helps us trace Eridanus all the way to Orion in the north. Above Orion (at his feet) is the constellation Lepus (the Hare).

Extend a line left through Orion’s belt to find the Hyades and Pleiades (Matariki) clusters of Taurus, and right to find brilliant Sirius.

Directly below Orion, very low, northerners might glimpse Capella of Auriga. Slightly higher to the right are Castor and Pollux of Gemini, and further, almost east, Regulus of Leo is rising.

Looking south, find Crux, with the Diamond, and False Crosses easily spotted above. The Diamond points to the Large Magellanic Cloud high in the south. A line from Crux takes us past the Small Cloud and on to Achernar.

-          Thanks to Auckland’s Stardome Observatory for permission to print this month’s Star Spotter. Click here to find further Stardome science education resources.

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