FEBRUARY 2020 AL SADEEM SKY-LENDAR: A Supermoon and more planet-Moon pairings

FEBRUARY 2020 AL SADEEM SKY-LENDAR: A Supermoon and more planet-Moon pairings

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The Moon and some prominent planets will rule our February night sky this year, and to keep up with the love season, these celestial objects will be often seen in “pairs”!

Keep your eyes peeled for planets such as Venus and Uranus, which will be immediately visible at the western section of the sky right after sunset until 9 in the evening. Other bright planets Mars and Jupiter can be observed before dawn at 4 AM and 5 AM, respectively, until sunrise. Planets that will be no-shows for February are Mercury, Saturn, and Neptune.

The “love month” will also be peppered with prominent winter constellations and deep-sky objects like the Great Orion Nebula, the Flame and Horsehead nebulas, Andromeda Galaxy, and the brilliant open star cluster Pleiades known as the “Seven Sisters.”

 

Top: (from left to right) Flame, Horsehead, Running Man and Orion Nebula Bottom: Pleiades (Image Credit: Thabet Al Qaissieh/Al Sadeem Astronomy)

These gems will be great to hunt when the sky is clear of the Moon, which will be on February 23 when the Moon is in its New phase. What’s more, it is predicted that the lunar phase will occur on this day. The month transition from Djumada l-Akhira to Radjab shall take place two days after, in accordance with the Hijri Calendar 1441.

Days are beginning to get a bit longer, too. Sunrises are expected to happen as early as 6:45 AMuntil 7:04 AM, while sunsets are bound to occur at 6:07 PM to as late as 6:24 PM.

Supermoon

February 9 is a Full Moon, but it’s not just going to be an ordinary full Moon. The Earth’s natural satellite will be at its perigee, or at its closest point to our home planet, which means only one thing—February 9 is a day of the Supermoon! It is a colloquial term for the occurrence of a Full Moon on its perigee – when at its closest distance from Earth (about 362,479 km away)

The Moon will be approximately seven percent bigger and 16 percent brighter than usual as seen from Earth. The apparent difference in size and brightness is evident in photographs. Catch it as early as 6:30 in the evening on the eastern horizon.

A comparison of ordinary full Moon with a Supermoon, or a full Moon at perigee (Image Credit: Aldrin B Gabuya/Al Sadeem Astronomy).

Eastern Elongation

Mercury, the smallest planet in the Solar System, will appear at its highest point just a few moments after sunset on February 10. In the UAE, the peak altitude of Mercury when it can be visible will be at 18° above the western horizon, from 6:15 PM until 7 PM. While it’s moderately bright, observing Mercury will be quite difficult since it’s going to be very near the Sun in the sky by this time.

Illustration of Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation on February 20, 2020, at around 6:30 PM (not to scale) (Graphic Courtesy of Stellarium)

Conjunctions and Appulses

Heads up on February 18 for the Moon-Mars appulse, or—as defined by the Merriam-Webster—the “apparent very near approach of one celestial body to another: a coming into conjunction.”The Moon and the Red planet can be spotted at the east-southeastern horizon from 3:30 AM until sunrise. As an added treat, gas giants Saturn and Jupiter will be seen southwest of the pair.

Illustration of the Moon-Mars Appulse on February 18, 2020, at around 4 AM (not to scale) (Graphic Courtesy of Stellarium)

Two days later, on February 20, a seemingly love triangle among the Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter will be seen in the night sky. This appulse will be visible at 5 AM until sunrise, with the Waning Crescent Moon situated between Jupiter (to the south) and Saturn (to the northeast). Red planet Mars will also have its cameo far northeast of the pair(s).

Illustration of the Moon-Jupiter-SaturnAppulse on February 20, 2020, at around 5:30 AM (not to scale) (Graphic Courtesy of Stellarium)

Finally, on February 27, the Moon will be dancing closely with the planet named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty—the planet Venus.

Right after sunset, the Moon-Venus conjunction will be seen in the western section of the sky until the pair sets at 9 PM.

Illustration of the Moon-Venus Conjunction on February 27, 2020, at around 6:30 PM (not to scale) (Graphic Courtesy of Stellarium)

REFERENCES
  • Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events 2020. (n.d.). Retrieved from Sea and Sky: www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-2020.html
  • Calendar of Astronomical Events. (n.d.). Retrieved from In-The-Sky.org: http://in-the-sky.org/newscal.php?year=2020&month=2&maxdiff=4 #datesel
  • Islamic calendar 2020. (n.d.). Retrieved from Calendar.sk: https://calendar.zoznam.sk/islamic_calendar-en.php?ly=2020
  • Sunrise and sunset times in Abu Dhabi, February 2020. (n.d.). Retrieved from timeanddate.com: https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/united-arab-emirates/abu-dhabi?month=2&year=2020
  • Espenak, F. (n.d.). Full Moon at Perigee (Super Moon): 2001 to 2100 Greenwich Mean Time. Retrieved from http://astropixels.com/ephemeris/moon/fullperigee2001.html
  • McClure, B. (2020, Feb. 2). Will February’s full moon be a supermoon? Retrieved from EarthSky: https://earthsky.org/?p=321975

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