THE SOLAR SYSTEM IN FEBRUARY 2020
Dates and times shown are NZDT (UT + 13 hours). Rise and Set times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ. Data is adapted from that shown by GUIDE 9.1
THE SUN and PLANETS in February 2020, Rise & Set Mag. & Cons. February 1 NZDT February 29 NZDT Mag Cons Rise Set Mag Cons Rise Set SUN -26.7 Cap 6.23am 8.44pm -26.7 Aqr 6.58am 8.07pm Merc -1.0 Cap 7.35am 9.28pm -1.0 Aqr 6.38am 7.33pm Venus -4.0 Aqr 9.50am 10.28pm -4.1 Psc 10.47am 9.44pm Mars 1.6 Oph 2.17am 5.24pm 1.4 Sgr 1.48am 5.00pm Jup -1.8 Sgr 4.03am 7.05pm -1.9 Sgr 2.40am 5.37pm Sat 0.5 Sgr 4.58am 7.46pm 0.6 Sgr 3.23am 6.06pm Uran 5.7 Ari 1.18pm 12.02am 5.8 Ari 11.32am 10.13pm Nep 7.9 Aqr 9.26am 10.17pm 7.9 Aqr 7.41am 8.29pm Pluto 14.6 Sgr 4.47am 7.44pm 14.6 Sgr 3.01am 5.57pm February 1 NZDT February 29 NZDT Twilights morning evening morning evening Civil: start 5.55am, end 9.13pm start 6.32am, end 8.34pm Nautical: start 5.17am, end 9.51pm start 5.59am, end 9.07pm Astro: start 4.35am, end 10.33pm start 5.23am, end 9.42pm February PHASES OF THE MOON, times NZDT & UT First quarter: Feb 2 at 2.42pm (01:42 UT) Full Moon: Feb 9 at 8.33pm (07:33 UT) Last quarter Feb 16 at 11.17am (Feb 15, 22:17 UT) New Moon: Feb 24 at 4.32am (Feb 23, 15:32 UT)
PLANETS in FEBRUARY 2020
MERCURY is in the early evening sky most of February. At first it sets 40 to 45 minutes after the Sun, so will be a difficult object in the evening twilight. The planet is at greatest elongation, 18° east of the Sun on the 10th. It is stationary on the 16th and at inferior conjunction, between the Earth and Sun, on the 26th. Following conjunction, Mercury becomes a morning object but rises only a few minutes before the Sun by the 29th.
VENUS is an evening object setting about 90 minutes after the Sun. It is in Pisces most of the month. Venus will be fairly low and a little to the north of west shortly after sunset. On the 27th the crescent moon will be 7° to the upper left of Venus.
MARS, JUPITER and SATURN are all morning objects, forming a steeply inclined line to the east with Mars highest and Saturn lowest. They get closer to one another during the month. By the end of February the separation of Mars from Jupiter will be 11° with Saturn 8.5° below Jupiter. The three will be a little to the south of east. The crescent moon passes the three planets on the mornings of February 19, 20 and 21 respectively. Occultations of Mars and Jupiter by the moon are not visible from NZ.
PLUTO is between Jupiter and Saturn, closer to the latter.
URANUS is an evening object setting a little after 11pm at the end of February.
By then NEPTUNE sets only 20 minutes after the Sun.
POSSIBLE BINOCULAR ASTEROIDS in FEBRUARY February 1 NZDT February 29 NZDT Mag Cons transit Mag Cons transit (1) Ceres 9.1 Cap 12.49pm 9.3 Cap 11.46am (4) Vesta 8.0 Ari 7.36pm 8.3 Tau 6.13pm (5) Astraea 9.3 Cnc..12.35pm 10.0 Gem 10.32pm
CERES is a low morning object just over 7° to the lower right of Saturn on the 1st. Their distance apart doubles by the 29th as the faster moving asteroid draws away from the planet.
VESTA is an evening object. It moves into Taurus at the end of February when it will be about 10° from the Pleiades.
ASTRAEA fades from 9.3 to 10 during the month. It is likely to be lost to binocular view by mid February.