Venus, jupiter draw closer each night
Feb. 19—While you are outside in the evening just after sunset from a dark viewing site, look for the Great Square of Pegasus low in the west, with the deep V of Andromeda extending off the upper corner of the Square. The Andromeda Galaxy is near the middle on the right side of the V. If your viewing site is really dark, then you will be able to enjoy the additional excitement of seeing the Milky Way streaming across the sky from the NW to the SE.
If you face the north part of the sky then you may be able to discern the W of Cassiopeia, which is located within the Milky Way arm that passes through the zenith in the constellations of Auriga the Charioteer, catches the tips of Taurus' horns and the feet of the Gemini Twins, separates the two dogs that are following Orion, the Hunter, and passes through Monoceros, the Unicorn, and reach the poop deck of Jason's ship Argo, the constellation Puppis.
Looking north will provide the Big and Little Dipper asterisms as well as the faint stars of Draco the Dragon. An asterism is a secondary pattern of stars within the geometric constellation that is enclosed within particular quadrants in space, much like the latitude and longitude on a map of Earth. Draco winds between the two Dippers/Bears and the dragon's trapezoidal head is down near the horizon. Looking carefully, you might also be able to discern the crooked little house shape below Cassiopeia that is King Cepheus. Half of Cepheus is within those Milky Way stars.
The motions between Venus and Jupiter are bringing them closer each night. Jupiter has moved within the border of the constellation Pisces Sunday, the 19th. Early this week the two planets are joined by a thin crescent moon. Keep watching and tracking the locations of these two as they move ever closer together as February merges into March for a great conjunction on March 1.
Mars is still maintaining its presence high above our heads within the boundaries of Taurus the Bull. The locations of the two other planets we generally observe, Mercury is in the morning sky about 30 minutes before sunrise and Saturn lost to view because of its conjunction with the sun this past week.
The new moon occurs at 2:06 a.m. EST of the 20th This means the moon is hidden in the glare of the sun and your opportunity to keep checking the setting sun region to glimpse the "newest new moon" that serious sky-watchers like to record. When will you "bag" your trophy time?
If you have never visited the Resaca de la Palma state park night hike/tram tour, you might plan to attend on the 24th. This hike is preceded by an astronomy-related session by Stargazer for folks who arrive ahead of time while waiting for the on-time folks arrive. The tram tour ends at the Cristina Torres Memorial Observatory with an opportunity to do some star-gazing with members of the South Texas Astronomical Society and be introduced to the large telescope and the work being done there by members of the UTRGV physics and astronomy department. The park requires registration and a slight fee for the tour.
Until next week, Do let some stars get in your eyes and KLU.