Mars Slides Behind Moon This Month

In mid-February, a waning crescent Moon glides among Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in the predawn sky. For many viewers in North America, the Moon actually covers Mars on February 18th.
Sky & Telescope

It’s fitting that with my intense focus on Malacandra throughout January that upon finishing the Mythgard Academy class this week I have a major astronomical event featuring Mars to look forward to in less than two weeks.

I can take good advantage of this occultation since I live in the middle of the country just shy of 40 degrees north latitude. If I were visiting my daughter in the Pacific Northwest, I’d have a bit more dark time but might not see it as well being at a more northern latitude at 47 degrees.

Image via IOTA. See the loop at the upper right above North America? As the moon rises in the predawn hours on February 18, 2020, in this part of the world, Mars will covered over by the moon. But, later on before dawn, you can watch Mars reappear from behind the moon’s dark side. Read more.

Actually, not just Mars will be in the spotlight in mid-February. Three planets are center stage in the predawn skies starting February 18th (see first graphic above). Listen to Sky Tour courtesy Sky & Telescope for some viewing tips and other astronomical tidbits for February observing.

Sky Tour Podcast for February 2020

My only concern will be the weather, which in February in Kansas, is dodgy at best.

Keeping my fingers crossed and as always keep looking up!

Cool Early Morning Trio

Early Morning Trio
Early Morning Trio – Venus, Jupiter & Aldebaran (click image for rest of album)

Cool, because at 72 degrees, that was as cool as it was going to get on Friday, but also because I could clearly see bright Venus (lower left of triangle), slighter dimmer Jupiter (top of triangle) and even dimmer Aldebaran (middle right of triangle).  I like the cloud arrangement this morning a bit more than yesterday, but either one provides refreshing relief from the heat.  Here’s a close-up of the trio:

Early Morning Trio

I heard on the radio this morning our forecasted high was set for 105 degrees (our third or fourth day of excessive heat) with an extension of our heat advisory until next Wednesday. Ugh. My daughter in Texas is enjoying cooler weather than I am in Kansas. That just seems wrong.