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Urban Observing February 2013 February 6, 2013

Posted by aquillam in Urban Observing.
Tags: , , , , ,

Comet C/2011 L4 PANSTARRS io just far enough north to be visible to skywatchers in most of Michigan, but for most of the month it’ll be up during daylight. It heads northward quickly toward the end of the month, so if a good tail develops, you might be able to see a bit of it after snset at the end of the month. Keep a lookout for pictures from southern hemisphere skywatchers in the meantime.

More interesting for this month is a nice apparition of Mercury. It is asways a tough object to catch, so its a good chance to get some practice with binoculars.  Look for it in the WSW and practically on top of Mars on Feb. 8. A tiny very young Moon joins it on Feb 1. It’s at greatest eastward elongation on the 16th, but it’s also drifting south, so the easiest views wight be the 14th and 15th.

You might be able to catch one loot look at Venus if you use binoculars. Look ESE in the pre dawn skies along the horizon.

Mars is hanging out with Mercury on the WSW horizon for most of the month. Like Mercury, it’s a tough catch, so use binoculars.

Jupiter hovers between the Pleiades and Hyades this month and is an excellent evening target for a small telescope. Sky&Tel has a nice applet to tell you which Moon is which. It makes a nice tight paring with the Moon on the 17 and 18th.

Night owls and early risers both get a chance at Saturn. It rises in the ESE around 2 AM at the start of the month, so early risers should look for it high in the SSW at dawn. By the end of the month, it rises around 11:30, and dawn skywatchers will find it low in the SW.

Urban observers with a telescope have a fairly rich sky at this time of year.

Orion Nebula (M42) - graphic by Charles Messier

Orion Nebula (M42) – graphic by Charles Messier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pleiades is usually a naked eye object even in the poor Ann Arbor okies. A small ‘scope shows dozens of stars close together, although the nebulosity isn’t usually visible.

The Orion nebula is a truly excellent object, and usually has nice detail even in city skies, as long as it’s clear.

The Beehive cluster is another rich open cluster. It’s in Cancer, about a third of the way between Pollux in Gemini and Regulus in Leo.


Oops… If you don’t  actually click “Publish”, posts don’t actually become visible. Sorry this is so late!



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