Welcome to SkyEye, your guide to this month's celestial events.
|Saturday||4||First Quarter Moon|
|Sunday||5||Moon occults first-magnitude star Aldebaran: visible from northern Africa, southern Europe, western Middle East (beginning around 22:00 UT).|
|Monday||6||Moon at perigee|
|Saturday||11||The Full Moon is busy tonight! First, it takes part in a penumbral lunar eclipse. Then it occults first-magnitude star Regulus: visible from Australia, New Zealand (beginning around 12:50 UT).|
|Saturday||18||Last Quarter Moon at apogee|
|Sunday||26||The New Moon also has a hectic schedule this month, starting with an annular solar eclipse and finishing with an occultation of the planet Neptune.|
The word planet is derived from the Greek word for 'wanderer'. Unlike the background stars, planets seem to move around the sky, keeping mostly to a narrow track called the ecliptic, the path of the Sun across the stars. Dwarf planets and small solar-system bodies, including comets, are not so constrained, often moving far above or below the ecliptic.
The smallest planet in the solar system is well-placed for viewing before sunrise, especially from southern latitudes. It vanishes into the dawn sky by the end of month as it heads towards superior conjunction with the Sun in March.
The evening star is at its brightest this year on 17 February. It is best seen from the northern hemisphere where it stays quite high above the western horizon but it is much lower as observed from southern latitudes and descending quickly as the month wears on.
For nothern hemipshere observers, the red planet sets about the same time mid-evening every night but it sets earlier and earlier for those viewing it from southern reaches.
The largest planet in the solar system rises between mid-evening and late evening hours, depending on your latitude, and comes up a little earlier every night.
Saturn is a morning sky object, rising ever earlier ahead of the Sun.
This green-coloured ice giant is getting increasingly difficult to see in the evening twilight as it approaches conjunction with the Sun in early April. Look for it in the west after sunset. It sets just as Jupiter rises.
At solar conjunction early next month, the most distant planet in the solar system is unobservable this month.