This Week's Sky

Friday, February 3

• First-quarter Moon (exact at 11:19 p.m. EST). At sunset the half-lit Moon is high in the south. After dark it balances on the dim head of Cetus. Spot the stars of Aries to its upper right, and the Pleiades a little farther to its upper left.

Moon near Pleiades and Aldebaran, Feb. 4-5, 2017

The waxing Moon crosses Taurus these nights.

Saturday, February 4

• In early evening the Pleiades stand above the Moon, and Aldebaran shines left of it, as shown here.

Sunday, February 5

• The waxing gibbous Moon shines left of Aldebaran in twilight for North America, then pulls farther away from it through the night. The Moon occults Aldebaran for southern Europe and northern Africa; map and timetables.

Monday, February 6

• The sky's biggest asterism (informal star pattern) is the Winter Hexagon, and the Moon shines inside it tonight and tomorrow night. Start with brilliant Sirius at the Hexagon's bottom. Going clockwise from there, march through Procyon, Pollux and Castor, Menkalinan and Capella high up, Aldebaran down to Capella's lower right, down to Rigel in Orion's foot, and back to Sirius. Betelgeuse sparkles inside the Hexagon, south of the Moon this evening.

Tuesday, February 7

• After dark look due east, not very high, for twinkly Regulus. Extending upper left from it is the Sickle of Leo, a backward question mark. "Leo announces spring," goes an old saying. Actually, Leo showing up in the evening announces the cold, messy back half of winter. Come spring, Leo will already be high.

Wednesday, February 8

• This evening, the Moon shines on the segment of the Winter Hexagon between Pollux and Procyon.

Thursday, February 9

• Look above the Moon now for Pollux and Castor (Pollux is the lower and brighter of the two, tinted orange). A similar distance right or upper right of the Moon is Procyon.

Friday, February 10

The February full Moon is always in (or near) Leo.

The February full Moon is always in (or near) Leo.

• Full Moon (exactly so at 7:33 p.m. EST). A very deep penumbral eclipse of the Moon is visible around sunset or early evening from most of the Americas; map and details. And see the February Sky & Telescope, page 48.

Look for Regulus 6° or 7° to the Moon's lower left as darkness comes on for North America. By midnight, Regulus is directly to the Moon's left.

Saturday, February 11

• By 9 p.m. or so, the Big Dipper stands on its handle in the northeast. The Pointers, its top two stars, point left toward Polaris. In the northwest, Cassiopeia stands on end at about that same height.