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Friday, February 1, 2013

February 2013

February starts with a bright International Space Station (ISS) pass over Singapore on Sun 3rd Feb 7:38pm-7:45pm.

During this time the ISS will pass almost directly overhead, from south-west to north-east between the bright stars of Orion and the planet Jupiter.
The only things that will interfere with its visibility will be clouds or the bright evening sky at this time of year.
Star map showing the path and timings of ISS pass on 3rd Feb in Singapore.

You may have noticed that mornings remain darker for longer and early evening (ard 7pm) is brighter than usual.
Every year in February, Earth is halfway between its Solstice(21st Dec) and Equinox(21st Mar) position, resulting in the latest sunrise and sunset of the year in equatorial regions like Singapore.
Around 10th Feb the Sun rises at 7:17am and sets at 7:21pm.
Therefore the late sunset may impede ISS visibility.

Chinese New Year!
Its no coincidence that CNY also occurs on 10th Feb this year.
The date of Chinese Lunar New Year is also related to the position of the Sun at this time of year.
In China, the Sun's position around 3rd-4th Feb traditionally signifies the start of spring or Lichun 立春.
The New Moon closest to Lichun, is the start of the lunar new year.

Moon dates for Feb 2013

Obviously, during new moon, the moon is facing towards the Sun and is obscured from view. You can expect to see the Moon in the evening from 14th Feb to 26th Feb.
Position of the Moon in the early evening sky during Feb 2013

Jupiter's Moon
Jupiter remains the brightest planet in the night sky. During Friday's at SCOB we'll be able to see the following arrangement of its four biggest moons:

The closest planet to the Sun, reaches its maximum elongation (18deg) east  of the Sun, meaning Mercury is at is highest position, towards the West direction shortly after sunset on 14th Feb (around 7:30pm). Ideal weather conditions (clear sky) are required to see it, but it is just visible to the naked eye.

Finally, at least 8 of the brightest stars in the sky are visible in February. This includes Sirius, Canopus, Procyon.
One of our most common targets is of course Orion, reaching his highest point in the sky in the early evening this month, which should give us some pretty good views of the Orion Nebula.
Diagram of the brightest stars in the constellation Orion

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