February 2020 Guide to the Bright Planets
The crescent Moon and Venus seen in 2018.Bill Dunford/NASA
Here’s the February 2020 Guide to the Bright Planets from The Old Farmer’s Almanac. This month, super-bright Venus greets you after sunset all month, Mercury has its best showing and is visible to the naked eye, and the crescent Moon pairs up with a few visible planets. Here are Bob Berman’s highlights of the night sky.
Sky Watch February 2020
by Bob Berman, as featured in The Old Farmer’s Almanac
- Early this month, Saturn materializes as a low morning star just before sunrise, joining higher-up Jupiter and Mars, all in Sagittarius. These three superior planets bunch closer together as the month progresses. It’s probably easiest to spot bright Jupiter; then look for Mars above and Saturn below.
- Venus: After sunset, Venus pops out at you as the brightest thing in the western sky. This shining beacon will continue to dazzle through the entire month as dusk falls. In the second half of the month, Venus is really the only bright object that appears in the west after sunset. It’s impossible to miss.
- Mercury: Look far to the lower right of Venus. Any “star” you see down there is Mercury! Look near the sunset point on the horizon shortly after sunset. During this month’s first 12 days, Mercury has its best showing of 2020 at a very bright magnitude 0, far below the more dazzling Venus, which stands 10 degrees high 40 minutes after local sunset. You no longer need telescope or binocoluars to find Mercury (though binoculars will help).
February Moon and Planet Pairings
- On February 18, the waning crescent Moon offers a strikingly close conjunction with Mars before dawn. Then on the 19th, the Moon passes to the right of Jupiter to be just below Saturn on the 20th, providing easy identification of these two gas giants that will astonish the world in December.
- On February 27 (Thursday), the Moon pairs with the brightest planet in the night sky, Venus. You can’t miss it. After the Moon, it’s the brightest object in the sky!
- Look for this pairing in the early evening just after sunset, so great timing to step outside!
- The crescent Moon is 6° or 7° left of Venus during and after twilight.
- Note that the waxing Moon is only 14% illuminated so it’s a very slender crecent! See the Moon Phase Calendar for your location.
See the Almanac’s Bright Planets Calculator to find out when Venus rises and sets. Just type in your zip code!
You can also check the Almanac’s Moonrise and Moonset calculator.