In the next two weeks the Moon will be observable in the pre-dawn sky making it convenient for all you early risers. The Moon will pass by Mars, Saturn, Venus and Mercury. The Moon also passes by the bright stars Regulus, Arcturus, Spica and Antares, and though the constellations Leo, Virgo, Libra , Scorpius, Ophiuchus (Off E U cus), Sagittarius, and Aquarius. Note: This is based on information for Aurora, CO, but is close enough for use in other locations.
The Moon will go from Full Moon to New Moon (no moon visible) in the next two weeks. Watch how the Moon changes position and phase as it orbits the Earth. Observe the Moon thirty minutes to one hour before sunrise (approximately 6:50am to 6:30am MST at month’s end) 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. It’s a pattern our forefathers knew well, but lost to most of us living in the modern lighted world. You might just be surprised on how easy it is.
February 15-22: The waning gibbous (gets smaller) phases. The Moon starts off as a Full Moon on the western horizon opposite the rising Sun in the east. Over the next six days the Moon’s phase will get smaller or wan as the Moon moves easterly toward the rising Sun.
February 15: A Full Moon will be setting over the mountains. 6:15am MST or a bit earlier would be a good time to start watching the moon set. The star next to the Moon is Regulus in the constellation Leo the lion. Don’t forget to watch the sunrise (6:52am MST).
February 17-20: The Moon is in the constellation Virgo the virgin. On February 18 a noticeably gibbous Moon is to the lower right of two bright stars. The brightest (upper) is Mars. Below Mars is Spica the brightest star in Virgo. Way above the Moon is the bright star Arcturus in Bootes the herdsman. On February 19 the Moon moves right next to Spica with Mars above providing a nice photo opportunity. On February 20 the Moon moves to the left of Mars. The somewhat bright star to the left of the Moon is Saturn.
February 21-22: The Moon is in the constellation Libra the scales. There are no bright stars in Libra. On February 21 Saturn is above and to the left of the Moon. On February 22 the Moon is the left of Saturn. Note that the Moon, Saturn, and Mars make a straight line. The Moon is also at third (or last) quarter or half-moon. At this phase the Moon is approximately in the same place in space the Earth and you will be in 3.5 hours. Below and left of the Moon is the bright star Antares red super giant in the constellation Scorpius the scorpion. See if you can detect the red hue. If Antares were the Sun the Earth and Mars would be orbiting inside of it.
February 23-28: The waning crescent (gets smaller) phases. The Moon starts off as a Last Quarter Moon. Over the next five days the Moon’s crescent will get smaller as the Moon moves easterly diving toward the rising Sun.
February 23: A Crescent Moon enters the constellation Ophiuchus the serpent-bearer and thirteenth constellation of the Zodiac. Astrologically the Zodiac has only twelve. There are no bright stars in Ophiuchus. The Moon is roughly half way between Venus (lower left) and Saturn (upper right).
February 24-26: A thinning Crescent Moon is in the constellation Sagittarius the archer. Sagittarius points the way to the center of our galaxy. On February 25 Venus is to the left of the Moon. On February 26 Venus is to the right of the Moon.
February 27-28: A thin Crescent Moon is in the constellation of Aquarius the water bearer. There are no noticeably bright stars are in Aquarius. The Moon is very close to the rising Sun. Below and a little left is a difficult to see Mercury. There is a short window, between 5:50am to 6:10am is the best time to find Mercury.
On February 28 the Moon is too close to the rising Sun to be observed.
Wishing you clear skies