While the first part of the week is relatively quiet, the Moon passes near Venus and Uranus Thursday and Friday. To top off the weekend, Mars will pass the globular cluster M22.
Thursday, February 27 evening – Crescent Moon meets Venus
In the western evening sky on Thursday, February 27, the young, crescent Moon will make a lovely sight sitting a generous palm’s width to the left (or 6 degrees to the celestial south) of very bright Venus. Viewed in a telescope, Venus will exhibit a gibbous phase (inset).
Friday, February 28 evening – Moon and Uranus
In the western evening sky on Friday, February 28, the waxing crescent Moon will be positioned a palm’s width to the upper left (or six degrees to the celestial southeast) of the dim, blue-green planet Uranus. Uranus will be observable in binoculars and backyard telescopes. The very bright planet Venus will be well below the Moon and Uranus.
Saturday, February 29 pre-dawn – Mars passes a globular cluster
In the southeastern pre-dawn sky on Saturday, February 29 and the following morning, the orbital motion of Mars (red path with dates) will carry the planet very close to the bright globular star cluster Messier 22. At closest approach on February 29, both objects will appear together in the eyepiece of a backyard telescope at medium magnification (red circle) until morning twilight arrives. The globular cluster will appear as a fuzzy grey patch to the lower right of Mars in binoculars, too.
Chris Vaughan is a science writer, geophysicist, astronomer, planetary scientist and an “outreach RASCal.” He writes Astronomy Skylights, and you can follow him on Twitter at @astrogeoguy. He can also bring his Digital Starlab portable inflatable planetarium to your school or other daytime or evening event. Contact him through AstroGeo.ca to tour the universe together.