NASA's Skywatch notes for February include a spiral galaxy

What's Happening: February 2024 Skywatching Tips from NASA

NASA has shared top tips for what to spot in the sky in the coming weeks.

In a video released this week (above) the space agency notes that the following days offer a final chance to see Venus in the morning sky until it reappears as an evening planet in July. Especially interesting is the morning of February 6 (when the sky starts to brighten) when you can enjoy the sight of Venus near a thin crescent moon.

On the evening of Valentine's Day, NASA recommends looking for a crescent moon near Jupiter high in the southwest following sunset. „They're about two fingers' width across the sky, which means most telescopes can see them in one view,” the space agency says.

Returning to the sky this month is Mars, whose most recent evening appearances ended in September. It has disappeared behind the Sun for a while, but it has reappeared and is beginning to appear in the foreground.

„It's very low in February, and not very bright, but you can see it getting brighter and higher in the coming months,” explains NASA. „Those with an unobstructed view toward the southeastern horizon can look for a close approach of Mars and Venus as the pair rises in the last week of February.”

This month offers those with binoculars or binoculars a chance to spot Messier 81 (M81), a spiral galaxy similar to our own Milky Way, only slightly smaller.

Also known as the Bode's Galaxy, it's about 11.8 million light-years away from us, so if you can spot it, remember that the photons of light that hit your eyes have been traveling through space for over 11 million years. reach you

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With basic viewing equipment, M81 appears as a faint patch of light, but with more powerful instruments you can make out its bright center and spiral arms.

If you need help isolating planets and stars, download one of these great astronomy apps that will speed up the process. If you're interested in taking your stargazing hobby to the next level and taking astrophotography — perhaps starting with Venus and Mars this month — check out these telescopes that include such an imaging feature.

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