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SKY GUIDE: FEBRUARY

Promo

Welcome to the Sky Guide, your monthly guide to what's happening in the heavens!
Check out the printable version here: February Sky Guide.pdf

 

MOON MARAMA PHASES:

SUN  RISE / SUNSET

Phase

First Quarter

Full Moon

Third Quarter

New Moon

Date

Sunday, 2 February

Sunday, 9 February

Sunday, 16 February

Monday, 24 February

 

Saturday 1 February

Sunday 15 February

Tuesday 29 February

 Rise

6.30am

6.51am

7.12am

 

 

Set

9.11pm

8.51pm

8.27pm

 

Planets Whetū Ao:

 

 

Venus

Meremere-tū-ahiahi

1 February until 10.46pm

15 February until 10.19pm

29 February until 9.52pm

In Pisces

Mars

Matawhero

1 February after 2.21am

15 February after 2.04am

29 February after 1.52am

In Sagittarius

Jupiter

Hine-i-tīweka

1 February after 4.02am

15 February after 3.27am

29 February after 2.47am

In Sagittarius

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEBRUARY HUI-TANGURU HIGHLIGHTS



Leap Years

Instead of the usual 365 days we have in a year, 2020 will have 366 days. This is called a leap year, and it means there will be a 29th day in February. We have a leap year almost every four years due to the movement of Earth and how we measure time.

A year is the length of time that Earth takes to orbit the Sun, which is approximately 365.242189 days – or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds. As this is slightly more than the 365 days we call a year, every four years we need an additional day to make up for the extra time that orbiting the Sun takes. If we didn’t do this, we would lose almost six hours off our calendar every year, and after 100 years, our calendar would be off by around 24 days.

 

 

Lepus

High in the north-eastern sky this month is the constellation Lepus, whose name is Latin for hare. Unlike many of the 48 constellations named by the second century astronomer Ptolemy, the Lepus is not a figure from Greek mythology. It is sometimes thought to be a hare being chased by the huntsman Orion, a neighbouring constellation, or by his hunting dogs Canis Major and Canis Minor.

Lepus contains only one deep space object, M79, a globular cluster of stars located 42 000 light-years from Earth. This cluster is visible as a fuzzy spot through a pair of binoculars.

To find Lepus, look to the north-east to first find Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky and part of the constellation Canis Major. To the left of Sirius is Lepus, right above the constellation Orion that will stand out with three bright stars in a row (representing his belt). The brightest star in Lepus is Alpha Leporis, or Arneb, a white supergiant located around 1300 light-years from Earth that marks the shoulder of the hare.

 

 

Sunsets

With Valentine’s Day taking place this month, many of us may be heading out to enjoy a sunset on the 14th. Sunset occurs when the Sun disappears below the horizon due to the Earth’s rotation. The beautiful colours we see at sunset are a result of the Sun scattering light. When a beam of light hits a molecule in our atmosphere, the light is scattered, sending different wavelengths of light in different directions.

The two main molecules in air are oxygen and nitrogen. As these molecules are very small compared to the wavelengths of sunlight, they preferentially scatter the shortest wavelengths, the blues and purples, giving us blue skies during the day.

However at sunset, the light has to take a longer path through the atmosphere than during the day. This means that most of the blue light has scattered out long before it reaches our eyes, leaving a more reds and oranges for us to see.

Once the Sun has set, it will still be a while before it’s dark enough for stargazing. Light from the Sun will still be illuminating the sky until we reach astronomical twilight, which happens around two hours after sunset, when the Sun is 12 to 18 degrees below the horizon. After this point, it will be dark enough to see the stars. 

 

 

 

 Lepus the Hare BW

Top Image: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=42410&picture=dusk-and-camel