Zodiacal Light and Morning Planets

The full moon was on Feb. 16, so in a few more days it will rise later, and you'll be able to observe the sky before it rises. On the 18th you can start looking for the Zodiacal Light. It will be visible for two weeks.

It's visible where the Sun sets. So, look to see where that is, then when the sky gets dark, you should be able to see the Zodiacal Light. It's brightest and widest near the horizon. When you find it and look up, you'll see that it gets narrower and dimmer. It will move to the left a little and actually rise to the Milky Way. It will be visible now from Feb. 18 to March 3.

In the morning when the sky is still dark, you will see a lot of the planets. Look in the east-south-east and you'll see a very bright light. That's Venus!  When I first saw it, I didn't know what it was because it was so big and bright. But after a few days I realized it was Venus.

Venus is very bright all month because it's closer to us than it usually is. That's why it's so bright. There are several planets close to Venus that are visible in the morning. Mercury reaches its greatest elongation from the Sun on Feb. 16. So, it's quite visible now. It's just a little to the left of Venus. Mars is just below Venus, and Saturn is to the left of Mercury.

So, you need to get up by 6 a.m. and if you have a window that looks to the south-east, you won't have to go out. I just look out of our window. On Sunday, Feb. 27, there is a morning traffic jam in progress before dawn. Brilliant Venus, small Mars, and a small waning crescent Moon are together and visible. Mercury is to the left of the moon. Although Saturn is to the left of Mercury, you may need to observe it with binoculars.

Jupiter is the only planet visible in the evening sky. It's in the south-west. I see it a lot. It's the brightest object when the sky starts to get dark. It's actually probably close to the Zodiacal Light.


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