Constellation of Orion in night sky.

Minnesota Skies: February 2019

Your local guide to observing celestial objects and events

Published01/28/2019 , by Parke Kunkle

Diagram of the stars that make up the winter circle.

Orion is glorious in our skies and shines almost due south around 8:30 pm. Use the three distinct stars in a row (Orion’s belt) as a guide.

Just below right of them shines Rigel, a super blue giant star. Above left of the belt gleams ruddy colored Betelgeuse, a red giant star. Orion is surrounded by a group of bright stars often called the Winter Circle (Winter Oval might be better). Start with the 3 belt stars. Slide your gaze along their line, down and left to Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. Circle clockwise left and up to Procyon. Keep circling to Castor and Pollux of Gemini and then nearly overhead to find Capella.

Now start back down and right to reddish Aldebaran in Taurus and down some more to Rigel and finally back to Sirius and you have traced out the Winter Circle.

Sky-lights

February Highlight Comments
1-28 Mars visible all month in evening SW
1-28 Venus, Jupiter, Saturn visible all month at dawn SE
1 Saturn 8 degrees below left of thin crescent Moon 7:20 am, Low SE
2 Saturn 3 degrees above right of thin crescent Moon 7:20 am, Low SE
10 Mars 6 degrees right of crescent Moon 8 pm, SW
18 Saturn 1 degree below right of very bright Venus 7 am, Low SE
19 Full super Moon
27 Jupiter 3 degrees below Moon 6 am, SE
27-28 Very bright Venus, Saturn, Moon, Jupiter form line 35 degrees long 6 am, SE

Resources

When viewing planets, stars or constellations in the night sky, it is helpful to use a sky map. Minnesota Starwatch is another great resource for tracking the night sky.

Meet up with other stargazing enthusiasts via Twin Cities Sidewalk Astronomers, MN Astronomical Society & MN Institute for Astrophysics.