For stargazers and Northern Lights hunters, February 2015 will be an extremely exciting month. Combining stargazing via powerful telescope with your Northern Lights hunt is sure to deliver a lot more memorable experience. Read on to see what’s up with the planets, meteor showers and deep sky phenomena and even fireballs in the coming month.
Not to be missed
It’s fireball season! Beginning february and till April, is an active period for fireballs. See “Special events” below.
One of the most visually appealing planet in our Solar System, Jupiter, will be going strong this month. Rising in the East it’s sure to be an excellent spectacle on clear sky evenings providing a great past-time while waiting for the Northern Lights to grace us. February 6th. Jupiter will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view this big planet and its moons
Betelgeuse will be visible in the Southern sky. This red supergiant is always interesting if only for facts like it being 400 times the size of our Sun and one of the brightest stars in the night sky. Oh, and of course the fact that it is probably going to blow up soon. Luckily for you though, “soon” in an astrological sense means a million years. To put your mind completely at ease Betelgeuse is about 600 light years away from us, so we should be safe.
Deep sky phenomena
As Betelgeuse, also a part of the Orion Constellation, the Orion Nebula will be visible in the night sky. This is our personal favorite and is very interesting to view in our powerful telescope.
Another beautiful deep sky phenomena, the Bode’s Galaxy will also be visible during February. It’s a very nice looking galaxy some 12 million light years away so if you wan’t to pear some 12 million years back in time, be sure to book a tour.
For reasons yet unknown, start of February marks the beginning of an approximately two month period where anomalies that have been termed “fireballs” occur at a significantly higher rate than usual. These are meteorites or debris similar to the ones producing the well known “shooting stars” only much brighter. The official definition is that if the shooting star is brighter than Venus as we see it, it’s a fireball. They can be quite spectacular to see but of course you will need a bit of luck to be at the right spot at the right time. As luck would have it, we actually spotted our first one for this season on a tour in the beginning of February. Just after having stepped out of the jeep, a green ball of fire lighted up the western part of the sky and left a streak at the lenght equivalent of approx 15 moon breadths for a few seconds. A spectacular thing to witness.
More on Fireballs here.
Image: Tommy Richardsen