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February 2023 stargazing information: full moon and extra

February 1 and a couple of, 2023 Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) reaches closes level to Earth
February  5, 2023 Full Snow Moon
February 20, 2023 New Moon
February 26, 2023 NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 scheduled to launch

February brings with it  climate forecasting rodents, romance, and this yr, inexperienced comets. The shortest month of the yr has a couple of strong  alternatives for wanting up on the night time sky and catching distinctive celestial our bodies, since it’s  simpler to see within the chilly, less-hazy air typical of winter months.

Listed here are a few of the cosmic occasions to maintain your eye on together with your Valentine (or groundhog). When you occur to get any stellar sky photographs, tag us and embody #PopSkyGazers.

[Related: ‘Skyglow’ is rapidly diminishing our nightly views of the stars.]

February 1 and a couple of – The ‘Inexperienced Comet’ reaches closes level to Earth 

Final month, we instructed you about Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), a newly found comet that has since made a flurry of headlines. This green-tailed comet has drawn nearer to the interior photo voltaic system and is approaching its brightest magnitude. It’s going to attain its perigee, or closest level to Earth (inside 26 million miles) on February 1 and a couple of within the Northern Hemisphere. It is perhaps seen with binoculars, however visibility shouldn’t be a given. Your greatest wager is to look northward after sundown. 

The comet was found in March 2022 by astronomers Frank Masci and Bryce Bolin on the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), part of the  Palomar Observatory in California. Astronomers calculated that it solely orbits the solar about each 50,000 years, which implies that it was final seen on Earth across the time of the Neanderthals.

February 4 and 5 – Full snow moon

February’s full moon will attain its peak illumination at 1:30 PM EST on February 5. Since it is going to be beneath the horizon, one of the best view of this second full moon of 2023 will greatest be taken the night time earlier than or in a while Sunday February 5. The moon will drift above the horizon within the jap sky  round sundown and can attain its highest level round midnight.

The identify snow moon is fairly easy, as February is understood for heavy snowfall. It’s additionally referred to as the Eagle Moon or Migizi-giizis in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe), the Hungry Month or Kagali in Cherokee (Japanese Band of Cherokee Indians, North Carolina), and the Midwinter Moon, or Tsha’tekohselha in Oneida.

It is usually near the 52nd anniversary of NASA astronaut Alan Shepard hitting the first golf ball on the moon on February 6, 1971. Fore!

February 20 – New moon

When you choose new moons to full moons, the new moon will rise at 2:09 AM EST. The brand new moon happens when the moon is between the Earth and solar, and the aspect of the Moon that’s in shadow faces Earth.

The moon’s diameter is 2,160 miles, which is lower than the width of the US (roughly 3,000 miles), and 0.27 of Earth’s diameter (7,926 miles), in response to the Outdated Farmer’s Almanac.

[Related: What to expect from space exploration in 2023]

February 26 – SpaceX Falcon 9 scheduled to launch of astronauts to Worldwide Area Station

If all goes in response to plan, SpaceX and NASA will launch Crew-6 from Kennedy Area Middle on the finish of this month. 

NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev can be aboard the launch and are scheduled to spend about six months aboard the Worldwide Area Station (ISS). The mission is the sixth contracted astronaut flight that SpaceX flies to the ISS for NASA, however Crew-6 would be the ninth crewed orbital mission for the non-public house flight firm.

As with all launches, this one could possibly be rescheduled and viewing particulars are nonetheless TBD, however may be discovered right here.

The similar skygazing guidelines that apply to just about all space-watching actions are key this month: Go to a darkish spot away from the lights of a metropolis or city and let the eyes regulate to the darkness for a couple of half an hour. 

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