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TOPIC: February 2010


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RE: February 2010
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Only three planets are easily spotted this week. Mars is up almost all night and is high in the east by 8:30 p.m. Saturn rises about 9:30 p.m. and is well up in the east by midnight. Jupiter sets about an hour after sunset. Mercury and Venus are caught in solar glare and are hard to spot.
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The Moon and Saturn in the constellation Virgo at 22:46 GMT, 2nd February, 2010.

moonSat-2010-2-2-22h46b.gif
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Jupiter satellite positions
jupsatfeb10.gif

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As the planets Mars and Saturn come out to play for the bulk of the night, the charming planet Venus -- named for the Roman goddess of love -- makes a shy return just in time for Valentine's Day.
If nothing else, Mars is an all-night player that starts the evenings low in the east-northeast, hanging out below the Gemini twins. Easily spy the constellation Orion and that bright beacon Sirius, the dog star, to the western side of Mars.
To the naked eye, Mars will have a reddish tint. By mid-February, the planet rises earlier, allowing it to start higher in the eastern sky as darkness falls.
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Mercury is visible most of February low in the early morning sky. On Friday morning, Feb. 12, 2 degrees south of the tiny planet there will be a thin sliver of the waning crescent moon, which will disappear in 25 hours. You may need binoculars to spot the crescent, as only 2 percent of the moon is illuminated at this time.
As the month progresses, Venus will become visible on the west-southwest horizon in the early evening, not far from Jupiter. On Feb. 14, Venus, Jupiter and the thin waxing crescent moon will form a beautiful trio in the field of a pair of binoculars.

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daffodil2.gif

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Deep-sky objects for February:
Andromeda:
M 31 M 32
Cepheus:
B173-4 IC1454 IC1470 Mrk50 NGC7235 NGC7261 NGC7354 NGC7380 NGC7419 NGC7510
Cygnus: NGC6819 NGC6826
Hercules: DoDz 9
Lyra: M56 M57 NGC6791
Pegasus: NGC 7814
Perseus: M 76
Triangulum: M 33

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Highlights

Objects of the Heart for Valentine's Day.
On February 14, many areas of the world will celebrate love with Valentine's Day. For those of you lucky enough to have a loved one of your own, consider the following objects provided in the Heavens: The first and most obvious is the planet of Venus, named after the Greek Goddess of love. Now, go over to the constellation of Cassiopeia, and you will find The Heart Nebula. Officially called by the decidedly less romantic "IC1805", the Heart Nebula glows a reddish hue (naturally!) at magnitude 6. Surrounding the delicate splash of diamonds, is the star cluster Mel-15. Next is the Rosette Nebula ,NGC2237. Located in Monoceros, this delicate planetary nebula is perhaps one of the prettiest in the sky. Zoom in with a field of view of 4 degrees, you will see beauty gracefully bloom on your screen unlike anything you're seen before. If the roses have done their job, you may at last want to consider the Ring Nebula, M57. Rising in the early morning hours during the winter, M57 is one of the easiest to locate deep-sky objects and one of the most aptly named, nestled gently in the side of Lyra, the Lyre. Low power telescope views show a very small blue/green disk, not much bigger than a star. Medium to high power will magnify the size of the nebula while leaving the surrounding stars the same size, confirming you have found it. Can be seen in binoculars as a faint star like point of light.



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Meteor Showers

February has no major meteor showers but there are a couple of minor showers for Southern hemisphere observers, the Alpha and Beta Centaurids. Although the Alpha Centaurids is considered a minor shower, in some years the number of meteors rises enough to reach the level of a major shower. While Alpha & Beta Centaurids can occasionally be seen during most of the month, their peaks occur on the same night, in the early morning hours of February 8.

You can listen to them by tuning to the 67 MHz meteor radar in Roswell, NM.

Shower Activity Period Maximum Radiant Velocity ZHR
Date R.A. Dec. km/s
Beta Centaurids 1- 25 February 9 February 13.9h -58.1 58.9 13.2
Alpha Centaurids 9 February 14.5h -59.8 58.2 7.0
Pi Virginids Feb.- 9 March 12 February
Beta Leonids Feb.- 25 March 13 February
Delta Velids Jan 22-Feb 21 14 February 08:44 -52 35 1
Omicron Centaurids Jan 31-Feb 19 14 February 11:48 -56 51 2
Delta Leonids Feb 15-Mar 10 22 February 11:12 +16 23 2
Sigma Leonids 25 February 176 +9 2


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