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Star Gazing - February 11, 2019
Monday, February 11
• Mars and Uranus pass close by each other this evening through Wednesday evening. Mars is magnitude
1.0. Uranus is almost 100 times fainter at magnitude 5.8, but it's visible in binoculars nonetheless.
Right after nightfall tonight, find Mars to the lower right of the Moon. Uranus is located 1.2° to Mars's
left and perhaps a touch higher. (For a sense of scale, a typical 8-power binocular has a field of view 6° or
7° wide.) To help orient yourself, you'll see the brighter star Omicron Piscium, magnitude 4.2, in the same
binocular view a little farther below Uranus and a bit left.
• Meanwhile, late this evening for North America, 7th-magnitude Comet Iwamoto passes very close to Eta
Leonis, magnitude 3.5, in Leo's Sickle. The timing of this passage is especially good for late-evening
observers in the Eastern and Central time zones. See Comet Iwamoto Ascends and Brightens, with finder
Tuesday, February 12
• First-quarter Moon (exact at 5:26 p.m. EST). The Moon shines below Aldebaran and the Pleiades.
Mars is far to its lower right.
• Now you'll find Uranus is 1.0° left of Mars and perhaps a bit lower; see yesterday.
Wednesday, February 13
• The Moon, just past first quarter, shines in or near the Hyades this evening just a couple degrees from
• Uranus is now 1.1° lower left of Mars right after dark. It's positioned less than halfway from Mars to
Omicron Piscium, magnitude 4.2.
Thursday, February 14
• The waxing gibbous Moon this evening shines high over Orion, near the horn stars of Taurus.
Venus, Jupiter, Saturn at dawn, Feb. 16, 2019
By week's end Jupiter and Venus are much farther apart in the dawn, and Venus appears to be cozying
up to dim, distant Saturn.
Friday, February 15
• The Moon is in the feet of Gemini this evening. Castor and Pollux are to its left, Procyon is to its lower
left, and Orion is to its lower right.
Saturday, February 16
• Right after dark, the gibbous Moon finds itself between Castor and Pollux to its upper right and Procyon
farther to its lower left. By 10 or 11 p.m. this arrangement turns vertical.
• Partial asteroid occultation of Sirius coming. Late next Monday night, the night of February 18-19, the
brightest star in the night sky will be partially occulted for up to 1.8 seconds when, for well-placed
observers, the invisibly tiny asteroid 4388 Jurgenstock momentarily passes in front of it. The occultation
will happen along a very narrow path running from the Winnipeg area across the Dakotas, western
Nebraska, eastern Colorado, New Mexico, northwestern Mexico, and possibly the tip of Baja California.
The asteroid is only about 4 miles wide, so it will subtend about the same angular diameter as Sirius, one of
the nearest stars. That's why the occultation will almost surely be partial. Think videorecording!
Starry, Starry Night . . .
"I know nothing of any certainty, but the sight of the stars
makes me dream." -Vincent Van Gogh