Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Monday, February 1, 2016

February stargazing

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
-Oscar Wilde

The Whole Gang
All five of the planets that are easily visible to the unaided eye remain in view in the dawn sky, spreading out from southeast to west-southwest early this month. You may need binoculars to spot Mercury through the waxing twilight, although nearby Venus, the brilliant "morning star," can help you pick it out.

Stargazing Summary
The brilliant stars of winter offer some of the most beautiful skyscapes of the year. Orion is in the south at nightfall, with dazzling Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, twinkling fiercely to its lower left. By late in the month, though, the stars of spring slide into better view. Leo clears the horizon by mid-evening, with Virgo trailing the lion. The planet Venus is dropping lower in the morning sky, while Jupiter charges into the evening sky, and by month's end is in view most of the night.

More stargazing information

Radio Program Highlights
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February 1-7: Moon meanderings. The Moon passes by the "morning star" and some other impressive lights in the morning sky this week, and we'll have details. We'll also tell you about the first spacecraft to safely land on the Moon. Join us for this and more.

February 8-14: Going Small. A technique known as interferometry allows astronomers to see smaller details than ever before in star systems, galaxies, and other objects. But it's not easy to do. Join us for details on this and much more.

February 15-21: The Arrow Of Time. In our universe, time appears to flow in only one direction — from past to future. But scientists aren't sure just why that's the case. Join us for time's arrow, plus a stellar twin, the heart of the lion, and much more.

February 22-28: Power for Space. Physicists discovered plutonium 75 years ago this week, and we'll have details. We'll also tell you how the element is powering the exploration of the solar system — and how supplies are growing scarce. Join us for this and more.

February 29: Leap Day. This week kicks off with something we haven't seen in four years: February 29th. We'll tell you how this extra day came about and how it keeps us aligned with the seasons. Join us for this and much more.

Program schedule »

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Coming Up in StarDate Magazine
On the heels of the 2015 Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of neutrino mass, we'll look at other particles that scientists are chasing that could turn cosmology on its head. And we'll take you into a mysterious cold spot in space discovered when satellites mapped the radiation left over from the Big Bang.

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News from the Observatory
High School Student Helps Discover New Planet
High school senior Dominick Rowan of Armonk, New York, is making discoveries about other worlds. Working with University of Texas at Austin astronomer Stefano Meschiari, Rowan has helped to find a Jupiter-like planet and has calculated that this type of planet is relatively rare, occurring in three percent of stars overall. Their research has been accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.

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About SkyTips
SkyTips is a monthly email newsletter for visitors to McDonald Observatory and StarDate Online. Each issue features stargazing highlights, upcoming StarDate radio program descriptions, and other news. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to your friends and family.

SkyTips is a publication of the University of Texas McDonald Observatory Education and Outreach Office, 2609 University Ave. A2100, Austin, TX 78712. Reproduction of SkyTips content is permitted with proper credit given to McDonald Observatory.

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