What to See in the Night Sky
Welcome to the February 2018 Sky Watch! See what to look for in the night sky tonight, including bright planets, the full Moon, and more celestial highlights!
Sky Watch February 2018
by Bob Berman, as featured in The 2018 Old Farmer’s Almanac
What’s in February’s night sky? Here are the highlights:
The dark skies of February present magnificent sky gazing opportunities. In fact, there won’t be a full Moon phase in February of 2018 so the skies will be darker than usual!
Stars and Constellations
- Orion the Hunter dominates the night sky. Most stargazers know Orion’s starry belt. See my post on viewing Orion.
- Following in Orion’s footsteps is his faithful companion, the great dog. Canis Major’s nose is marked by brilliant Sirius—which is actually a double star system.
Credit: Astrophotographer David Rankin
- Jupiter rises shortly after midnight and is the brightest “star” in the east. A small telescope reveals the cloud bands of the Giant Planet.
- Mars soon follows Jupiter in the pre-dawn sky. The reddish planet brightens to magnitude 1 as it floats to the upper left of Antares in Scorpius, low in the east at dawn.
- The Moon passes to the left of Mars on the 9th.
- Saturn: its gorgeous rings wide open, begins to be seen easily this month, 15 degrees high just before dawn. The crescent Moon floats above Saturn on the 15th.
- Venus starts to emerge low in western twilight by mid-month. A thin, waxing crescent Moon floats above it on the 16th. Every planet is brightening and getting higher.
In February 2018, there won’t be a full Moon. This occasionally occurs during our shortest month. Instead, there were two full Moons in January and March. See your local Moon phase.
Partial Solar Eclipse
On February 15, there will be partial eclipse of the Sun. This happens when the Moon passes through the upper part of the solar disk. See our eclipse page to see if this event is visible from your location.
Click here for a free sky map to navigate February’s night sky!