Dark Skies: Love is in the air; celestial pairs this month

Summary is from the transcript of “What’s Up in February 2018” by NASA

What’s Up for February 2018? Let’s look at some celestial “pairs” in honour of Valentine’s Day Feb. 14.

The constellations Perseus and Andromeda are easy to see high overhead this month.

According to lore, the warrior Perseus spotted a beautiful woman—Andromeda—chained to a seaside rock. After battling Medusa and a whale, he rescued her.

As a reward, her parents Cepheus and Cassiopeia allowed Perseus to marry Andromeda. You can see this starry couple together nearly overhead, traveling around the north celestial pole.

The great hunter Orion fell in love with seven sisters, the Pleiades, and pursued them for a long time. Eventually Zeus turned both Orion and the Pleiades into stars.

Orion is easy to find. Then draw an imaginary line through his belt stars to the Pleiades, and watch him chase them across the sky forever.

Two easy to see pairs of star clusters are visible on February nights. The Perseus Double Cluster is high in the sky near Andromeda’s parents Cepheus and Cassiopeia.

Through binoculars, you can see dozens of stars in each cluster. Actually there are more than 300 blue-white super-giant stars in each of the clusters.

There are some colourful star pairs, some visible just by looking up, and some requiring a telescope. Gemini’s twins, the brothers Pollux and Castor, are easy to see without aid.

Orion’s westernmost (or right) knee, Rigel, has a faint companion. The companion, Rigel B, is 500 times fainter than the supergiant Rigel but is visible only with a telescope.

Orion’s westernmost belt star, Mintaka, has a pretty companion. You’ll need a telescope.

Finally, the moon pairs up with the Pleiades on the 22nd, and with Pollux and Castor on Feb. 26.

Now a couple of special mentions : On Thursday Feb. 8 before dawn see a waning Moon close to Jupiter – with Mars nearby.

The Moon and Jupiter are in the pre-dawn sky. If clear before dawn on the 8th, notice a waning moon, between Full Moon and Last Quarter, lies close to Jupiter. Down to the left is Mars lying above

Antares in Scorpius.

The Moon in a beautiful skyscape. In the evenings of Feb. 23 and 24, the Moon, coming towards first quarter, will pass through Taurus and Orion.

On the 23rd, it will lie close to Aldebaran and on the 24th lie above Orion.

You can find out about all of NASA’s missions at www.NASA.gov.

Should you wish to meet the RASCals of Cattle Point – see Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/groups/VictoriaRASCals/

Dark Skies to all friends of Cattle Point Star Park.

Summary is from the transcript of “What’s Up in February 2018” by NASA announcer and astronomer Jane Houston Jones with specific permission for localization to Cattle Point Dark Sky Urban Star Park and the Oak Bay News. You can subscribe to her weekly blog at /solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/category/10things

Just Posted

Good energy marks third annual celebration of welcome pole

Nov. 22 is Sno’uyutth day in Oak Bay with good energy at Windsor Park beginning at 7 p.m.

Help Polar Express and pancakes fight child hunger

Rotary of Victoria and Breakfast2Music look for event sponsors

More opioid harm reduction resources needed for B.C. youth

Front-line workers advocate for a youth-targeted supervised consumption site in Greater Victoria

Colwood’s Esi Edugyan wins $100K Giller prize for Washington Black

Edugyan won her first Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2011 for Half-Blood Blues

Handmade forest grows inside Bay Centre in support of sick kids

Festival of Trees raises funds for B.C. Children’s Hospital

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

COLUMN: Higher interest rates will slow B.C. economy after ‘unusually robust’ show

Jock Finlayson is executive vice president and chief policy officer of the Business Council of BC

Jason Aldean, Old Dominion to headline Merritt’s Rockin’ River concerts next summer

Four-day music festival at Coldwater River from Aug. 1 to 4

Takedown of deranged, slashing man with knife earns Vancouver Island RCMP officers bravery honour

“The members feel they were just doing their job, I have to disagree. They went above and beyond.”

Courtenay’s new council cycles to its first meeting

Councillors kick off term on two wheels to make a statement

Nanaimo billing ‘drug and theft house’ for police calls

City takes steps under nuisance property bylaw

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

Bovine tuberculosis found in cow on southern B.C. farm

CFIA said the disease was found during slaughter and they are investigating

Air force getting more planes but has no one to fly them, auditor warns

The report follows several years of criticism over the Trudeau government’s decision not to launch an immediate competition to replace the CF-18s.

Most Read