Celestial events in the skies for the week of Feb. 7th – 13th 2017, as compiled for The Loafer by Mark D. Marquette.
The Bristol Astronomy Club is attempting to revitalize its membership this year and welcomes all novices to bring their telescopes to meetings for hands-on, free instruction. The Friday, Feb. 10, 7 pm meeting at the King University’s Burke Observatory will have telescope instruction and a program on space museums. The public is invited to the free program. Bristol Astronomy Club, in its 53rd year, usually meets the second Friday of the month. And with the Great American Solar Eclipse on Aug. 21st, BAC is your source for safely observing this once-in-a-lifetime event.
Tuesday, Feb. 7
The Moon does its dance across our winter skies, reaching full phase on Friday night/Saturday morning. This week our closest celestial neighbor moves through the constellations Gemini tonight, Cancer on Wednesday, and Leo on Thursday through Saturday The gibbous Moon ends the week in Virgo the Virgin.
Wednesday, Feb. 8
Even under this week’s moonlight, the constellation Orion is still magnificent. The two stars in his legs are supergiants—larger than the orbit of Mercury if they replaced our Sun. The knee star to the right is Rigel, a blue-white supergiant that is 910 Light Years away. Saiph, the other knee star, is another supergiant, 1,300 Light Years distant.
Thursday, Feb. 9
Red star Betelgeuse, the left shoulder star of Orion, is 310 Light Years away, a bloated, old star that is one of the largest “supergiants”—filling the orbit of Mars if placed in our Solar System. Bellatrix, the other shoulder star, is a blue giant 360 Light Years away.
Friday, Feb. 10
The Bristol Astronomy Club meets tonight at 7 pm at the Burke Observatory on the campus of King University. Visitors are welcome to the free program.
Saturday, Feb. 11
At 5:30 am, the pre-dawn sky is spectacular as the summer constellations are on display. Scorpius is rising directly south with its heart being the red star Antares. High over the south skies are bright yellow Jupiter, with the bright white star Spica below in the constellation Virgo the Virgin.
Sunday, Feb. 12
Gemini, with Pollux to the left and Castor above his brother. Pollux is one of the closest stars to Earth, only 36 Light Years away. Castor, 45 Light Years away, is an amazing star with five other stars orbiting it—two easily seen in a telescope.
Monday, Feb. 13
The evenings have the continuing conjunction of Venus and Mars, now moving into the twilight. By mid-March, they will both the gone, passing near the Sun and into the morning sky.