Minnesota Skies

February

If you think you see more stars in the winter skies in Minnesota, you are probably correct.

Of course, it stays dark longer and less water vapor in the air gives us better viewing conditions, but we also have some rich skies to view. For example, around 8 pm look about 40 degrees above the southern horizon for three bright stars in a row that represent Orion’s belt. Reddish Betelgeuse blazes about 10 degrees perpendicular above left of the belt while Rigel shines below right of the belt. Follow the line of the three stars down and left to Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. Follow that same belt line above and right to the bright star Aldebaran and just a bit further to a group of fainter stars called the Pleiades or Seven Sisters.

A number of other bright stars like Procyon, Castor and Pollux shine in this quadrant of the sky. Capella gleams nearly overhead. But don’t take our word for it--grab a sky map and gaze for yourself.

February Highlight Notes
1 Ruddy Mars 12 degrees below left of bright Jupiter 6 am, South
1 Bright star Regulus above right of Moon 10 pm, East
7

Bright Jupiter below left of Moon

6 am, South
8

Jupiter right of Moon. Mars below left of Moon.
Star Antares 5 degrees below Mars.

6 am, SSE
9

Mars below right of Moon

6 am, SSE
11 Saturn just below thin crescent Moon 6 am, Low SE
23

Bright star Aldebaran right of Moon

8 pm SW
28

Bright Venus just above horizon

6 pm, Low WSW
28

Moon almost covers Regulus

8 pm to midnight
Use binoculars


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.

Mid-February Winter Circle stars

The winter sky has its own special asterism, with eight bright stars. It’s called the Winter Circle or Winter Hexagon. Graphic by Skyscrapers Inc.