Skywatching This Week: February 11-17

Sun and Moon

In Chicago, the SUN sets this week between 5:19 pm and 5:27 pm Central Standard Time and rises between 6:51 am and 6:43 am Central Standard Time. The MOON is in its waxing crescent phase. At the start of the week, it sets at about 7:19 pm, but by the end of the week it sets just after midnight. It reaches first quarter on Sunday, February 17.

Planets

JUPITER is visible throughout the evening; it doesn’t set until after midnight. SATURN now rises just before midnight, so it is easily seen in the south before sunrise.

Evening Commute

The crescent MOON will be in the western sky at dusk. JUPITER is almost overhead after sunset; other than the moon, it’s the brightest object in the sky. Look south to find it. Once you do, you will see the bright star ALDEBARAN just below it and the bright star CAPELLA to its left. The next brightest object (after JUPITER) is the star SIRIUS, which is rising in the southeast after sunset. Look toward JUPITER, then follow your eye down toward the horizon, and you can’t miss SIRIUS. Between JUPITER and SIRIUS lies the constellation Orion, with its famous three-star belt.

The constellation Orion, with Sirius, Jupiter, and Aldebaran
The constellation Orion, with Sirius, Jupiter, and Aldebaran

Other Bright Stars

Orion features the bright stars BETELGEUSE (the red-orange star on the top left) and RIGEL (the blue-white star on the lower right). Orion “stands upright” in the south by around 8:00 pm Central Standard Time. As I mentioned above, SIRIUS is below (and to the left of) Orion. The bright stars PROCYON and POLLUX are also visible; you can imagine a large arc connecting SIRIUS up and to the left to PROCYON and on to POLLUX. Also, the bright star REGULUS is starting to appear in the night sky. Look for it rising in the east a few hours after sunset.

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