THE NIGHT SKY
Comet Lovejoy getting dimmer

 

By Mario Carr

 

There’s still time to glimpse Comet Lovejoy as it makes an 8,000 year orbit around the Sun.

 

Even though the Comet is getting dimmer, there’s a good chance you could see it from a dark location. Look towards the south around 9 p.m. high above the horizon and right of the Pleiades. 

 

You’ll need a telescope or binoculars to see it. It looks like a grey fuzz ball and has a green tint that’s caused by carbon molecules fluorescing under ultraviolet sunlight.        

 

This is the fifth comet discovery for Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy.

 

Here are February stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

 

Planet watching

 

Mercury can be seen low in the south eastern morning sky from Feb. 6-28. Venus and Mars can be seen low in the southwest evening twilight sky. Venus climbs higher as the month progresses.  

 

Saturn can be seen in the dawn sky. Uranus is low in the western evening sky setting mid-evening. Neptune vanishes into the twilight evening sky early in the month disappearing behind the Sun on Feb. 26.

 

Feb. 6 -- Jupiter is at opposition meaning we’re between it and the Sun. It’s also at its closest point for the entire year. You can see it all night rising at sunset in the east and setting at sunrise in the west. 

 

Feb. 7 – Sunlight reflecting off dust particles in the solar system known as Zodiacal Light can be seen in the western evening sky from a dark location for the next two weeks.

 

Feb. 12-13 – The Moon is close to Saturn in the morning sky.

 

Feb. 13 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m., Spectator Building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Free admission with door prizes and everyone is welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods would be appreciated. Kevin Salwach discusses Astronomical observations with the unaided eye.

 

Feb. 20 – The Moon, Mars and Venus are extremely close in the western evening sky.

 

Feb. 21-22 – Venus and Mars are extremely close in the western evening sky. 

 

Feb. 24 – Mercury is at its greatest angle away from the Sun making it easier to spot in the morning sky.

 

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. The club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

 

Mario Carr is the club’s director of publicity and can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca.