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Watch the Moon find planets bright stars and constellations easily Feb 1-14 2014

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In the next two weeks the Moon will be in the early evening sky making it convenient to find Mercury and Jupiter. The Moon will pass though the constellations Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, and Gemini, Cancer, and Leo, and by the bright stars Aldebaran, Capella, Procyon, Sirius, Castor, Pollux, Betelgeuse (beetle juice) Rigel and Regulus. Note: This is based on information for Aurora, CO, but is close enough for use in other locations unless noted.

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The Moon will go from New Moon (no moon visible) to Full Moon. Watch how it changes position and phase as it orbits the Earth. Observe the Moon about the same time each evening if you can. After a few days see if you can predict where the Moon will be in the sky and its phase the next day. After a few months you will note that the Moon’s phase, position, and the time of day are tied together.

The best time to observe the Moon is 30 to 60 minutes after sunset unless otherwise noted.

February 1-6: The waxing (gets bigger) crescent phases. The Moon starts off as a very thin crescent on the western horizon near the setting Sun. Over the next five days the crescent will thicken and the Moon will move easterly away from the setting Sun.

On February 1 the Moon is in the constellation Aquarius the water bearer. There are no noticeably bright stars are in Aquarius. Look for Mercury below a thin crescent in in the west. The best time to look is around 5:50pm in Aurora, CO. Other locations look 40 t0 45 minutes after local sunset. Mercury, the most difficult of the visible planets to spot, will set shortly after.

On February 2-4 the Moon moves to the constellation Pisces the fishes. There are no noticeably bright stars are in Pisces.

On February 5- 6 the Moon is in the constellation Aries the ram. There are no bright stars in Aries. On February 6 the Moon is in the Moon is at First Quarter or a half moon. When the Moon is at first quarter it is approximately in same place in space as the Earth and you were 3.5 hours ago. The Moon is half way between New Moon and Full Moon.

February 7-14: the waxing gibbous phases. The Moon is no longer a crescent when the Moon is at First Quarter. After First Quarter the moon phases start getting fuller. The Moon continues moving easterly away from the setting Sun.

On February 7-9 the Moon is in the constellation Taurus the bull. On February 7 the Moon is just right of the bright star Aldebaran. Look above and right the Moon for a small group of stars called the Pleiades or seven sisters which is absolutely marvelous in binoculars. Well above Aldebaran and the Moon is the bright star Capella, the goat star, in the constellation Auriga, the charioteer. On February 8 the Moon is left of Aldebaran. The bright star below the Moon is Rigel a blue giant in the constellation Orion. On February 9 the Moon is above the red giant Betelgeuse also in Orion. That bright star to the upper left of the Moon is Jupiter.

On February 10 the Moon is just below Jupiter in the constellation Gemini the twins. The very bright star below the Moon thirty degrees above the horizon is Sirius, the Dog Star, in Canis Major the large dog. Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky.

On February 11 the Moon is still in Gemini. The somewhat bright stars above the Moon are Pollux (lower) and Castor (upper) the Gemini twins. Below the Moon is Procyon in Canis Minor the little dog.

On February 12-13 the Moon moves into the constellation of Cancer, the crab. There are no noticeably bright stars in Cancer.

On February 14 the Moon is full and to the right of the star Regulus in the constellation Leo the lion.

Wishing you clear skies

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