Each Monday I pick out the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses and more.
What To See In The Night Sky This Week: February 13-19, 2023
Want to see the “green comet” tonight? It’s been in the news for all of 2023, but few people have been able to get eyes-on with the elusive C/2022 E3 (ZTF). However, you still have a chance to catch the best comet of 2023! Details below.
With the arrival of a Last Quarter Moon to start the week it’s a good time to go stargazing, planet-spotting and comet-hunting. Venus is getting brighter in the post-sunset western sky, this week passing close to Neptune. It’s an excuse to get eyes on the eighth and post distant planet, though you will need binoculars.
It’s also a great week for getting up early to see a lovely crescent Moon in the east, though as the nights become moonless it’s time to pick-out constellations and use a telescope to explore the deep sky.
‘Green comet’ tracker: see the comet this week
Where is the “green” comet tonight? Comet C/2022 E3 is past its best and has faded slightly since its closest point to Earth on Feb. 1. However, since then the Moon has been waning in brightness, making it actually slightly easier to spot—if you know where to look.
Here’s a really useful sky-chart to help you find the “green comet” this week and beyond:
Expert tips for seeing the ‘green comet’
- You’ll want to look to the southeast sky—find Orion’s Belt and go higher up into the night sky heading south to find Taurus and Aldebaran, the thirteenth brightest star in the night sky.
- You will need binoculars and you’ll also have to use the technique called “averted vision”—once you’ve found the fuzzy patch that is comet C/2022 E3, look slightly away from it. That may seem counterintuitive, but your outer eye will better appreciate the object’s brightness.
- Finally, don’t expect it to be green! Its color only comes out in long-exposure photos.
Tuesday, February 14, 2023: Moon and Antares
A 41%-lit waning gibbous moon will shine very close to Antares in the predawn sky. Antares is the brightest star on the constellation of Scorpius, which lies across the heart of the Milky Way galaxy we live in.
Wednesday, February 15, 2023: Venus and Neptune
The eighth planet from the sun is not particularly easy to find in the night sky, mostly because it’s so small and dim. However, tonight the super-bright planet Venus will guide you to it. The two planets will be just 45” apart in the post-sunset sky. Look west as soon as it gets dark—this sight will sink within a couple of hours.
Thursday, February 16, 2023: Saturn behind the Sun
Goodbye, ringed planet! Saturn has dropped out of the evening sky in recent weeks and is now lost in the glare of the sun. Today it’s on the sun’s far side. It will reemerge in the morning sky next week.
Friday, February 17, 2023: Crescent moon and Mercury Sun
Look to the southeast on the cusp of dawn and you’ll see a 12%-lit waning crescent moon. Use binoculars to find Mercury to its lower-left.
Object of the week: Venus
The second rock from the sun, Venus has been visible after sunset since late December and rising into the post-sunset evening sky ever since. It’s now hanging around much longer after dark, by month’s end shining for about two hours before setting in the west.
Times and dates given apply to mid-northern latitudes. For the most accurate location-specific information consult online planetariums like Stellarium and The Sky Live. Check planet-rise/planet-set, sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset times for where you are.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.
#Night #Sky #Week