#AceNewsReport – Feb.14: If you love the serenity of the early mornings in summer, then you are in for a treat this Valentine’s Day: Venus — named after the Roman goddess of love — joins Jupiter and Saturn in a line above the eastern horizon with Mercury to the side about half an hour before dawn:
February sky guide: Early morning lovers can catch Venus in a planetary line-up on Valentine’s Day & Mercury gets brighter, and, on February 24, forms a glittering triangle (Trine) with Jupiter and Saturn’
ABC News – Genelle Weule – Updated: 11 hours ago
“You’ll have this beautiful line of planets,” amateur astronomer Ian Musgrave said.
“Venus will be about a handspan above the horizon, Jupiter will be above that, Mercury a bit off to the left, and Saturn will be above them all.”
You’ll need to get your timing right — too early and Venus will be too low to see, too late and the Sun (which you should never directly look at with unprotected eyes or equipment) will wash out the sky.
As the month goes on, Venus sinks towards the horizon, but the three other planets climb higher in the sky and become easier to see as the sky gets darker.
“And as the days go on, Mercury comes closer and closer to Jupiter,” Dr Musgrave said.
Early morning constellations
The early morning is also a good opportunity to see some of the stunning constellations we usually associate with our winter evening skies in the southern hemisphere, Dr Musgrave said.
“We tend to think of winter as the best time to see the Milky Way, but also [morning in February] is a good time.”
As the Earth spins, we see different stars throughout the night. As some rise in the east, others set in the west.
Which constellations we see at different times of the year depends upon where Earth is in its orbit around the Sun in relation to the rest of the universe.
By February, we can see the centre of the Milky Way in the early morning sky (and the southern hemisphere gets the best view).
“The most gorgeous bits of the Milky Way are beginning to rise now in the morning,” Dr Musgrave said.
These include the grand curving constellation of Scorpius and Sagittarius, aka “The Teapot”, with their beautiful dust and gas clouds such as the Eagle Nebula, Omega Nebula, Lagoon Nebula, Triffid Nebula and Rho Ophiuchi.
If you live under dark skies and get up at 4:00am, you’ll see the silhouette of the “Emu in the Sky” embedded within the Milky Way rising almost perpendicular to the eastern horizon.
The head of the Emu, which features in many Indigenous stories, lies directly overhead near the Southern Cross, and its wings and body flows through Scorpius and Sagittarius.
An hour later, the constellation of Aquila rises above the horizon below Sagittarius and to the left of the planets.
This constellation is known as “The Eagle” in Greek mythology. It’s also known as Maliyan by the Wiradjuri people in southern New South Wales, and Bulyan by the Wardaman people of the Northern Territory.
The brightest star of the constellation — Altair — marks the eagle’s eye.
What about the evening sky?
If early mornings are not your thing, there is still lots to see in the evening sky this month.
All the iconic constellations of January such as Orion and Taurus (featuring the Pleiades or Seven Sisters, as they are known in Western and Indigenous astronomy) are still in the evening sky, although they are now closer to the north-west horizon.
Fun fact: When Orion sets around 2:00am in the west, Scorpius rises in the east.
Mars, which is now getting dimmer, is moving closer and closer to the Pleiades.
The first quarter moon zips by Mars on February 18 and 19.
“[The Moon] brackets Mars so it will be a quite nice thing to watch,” Dr Musgrave said.
Sirius — the brightest star in the sky — is now right above your head.
And all the southern sky features such as the Carina Nebula, False Cross, Diamond Cross and Southern Cross are higher in the sky and easier to see.
“You don’t need to be up late to see them,” Dr Musgrave says.
“They’re in a good position for binoculars and viewing.”
#AceNewsDesk report …………Published: Feb.14: 2021:
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