What’s overhead this month in the Northern hemisphere?
Note: The constellation names given are for the planets’ astronomical positions overhead. Their zodiacal, astrological positions in the tropical zodiac used by most Western (as opposed to Vedic) astrologers run about 23 degrees later in the zodiac than their astronomical positions. So if you have a current issue of Astronomy magazine, or another viewfinder for the February sky, a quick-and-dirty rule of thumb is to look for the planet in the sky about one sign/constellation before the sign/constellation that planet is transiting through in your birth chart/in the zodiac.
In the evening:
You can see Mars in the east in Cancer, Venus in the west in Capricorn/Aquarius, and Jupiter in the west in Aquarius. Reddish Mars is particularly bright all month, and won’t be so large or luminous in a telescope again until 2014, so if you don’t have a telescope, grab your binoculars.
You can also see Uranus in the west in Pisces (with at least binoculars), about 20 degrees above Jupiter, under good conditions. These are skywatcher’s degrees, not astrological ones. Your fisted hand, held at arm’s length from you, measures about 10 degrees across the knuckles.
You can see Vesta in Leo; it will be at its maximum naked-eye visibility on Feb. 16-17, as a faint 6.1 magnitude star. It’s much easier to see through binoculars.
After about 10 p.m. early in the month, you can see Saturn in the east in Virgo. It often has a dull golden color. By the end of the month it rises about 8 p.m. Best viewing is after midnight to the south.
You can see Mars in the southwest in Cancer, and Saturn in the southeast in Virgo.
You can see Mercury in the southeast until mid-month in Aquarius/Pisces.
You can Mars in Cancer in the northwest, and Saturn in Virgo in the southwest.
Confused? Check out www.astronomy.com, or get the current issue from the newsstand. Or better yet, subscribe! It’s a fascinating and visually beautiful magazine.