Each Monday I pick out the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses and more. 

What To Watch For In The Night Sky This Week: February 15-21, 2021

Follow the Moon this week and it will take you to some of the winter night sky’s most beautiful sights—including itself. After visiting Uranus and Mars, our natural satellite in space will move across a backdrop of the Pleiades and the Hyades star clusters within the constellation Taurus.

That’s perhaps the most alluring region of the night sky at this time of year, and the presence of the Moon close to these clusters and planets will make for an attractive scene for naked eye stargazers. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021: Moon close to Uranus,, aligns with Mars and Pleiades

The seventh planet from the Sun is certainly not an easy world to see with the unaided eye, but this is really good opportunity to give it a go.

Tonight it lies 3º north of the Moon in the constellation of Aries, aligning with Mars and the luminous tangle of stars called the “Seven Sisters” stars, an open cluster of hot young blue stars also known as the Pleiades and M45

Thursday, February 18, 2021: Moon close to Mars

Tonight a 42%-lit waxing Moon—one day from its First Quarter phase—will pass 3.7º from Mars in the evening sky. The “best” time to see them from North America will be  9:49 p.m. EST, when the two planets will appear to be at their closest. 

Friday, February 19, 2021: Moon, Mars and the Pleiades

The red planet Mars and a First Quarter Moon will tonight form a loose triangle with the Pleiades. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021: Return of Jupiter and Mercury, Moon close to Aldebaran

After a trip into the Sun’s glare after spending much of 2020 shining brightly in the evening sky , Jupiter will this morning reappear as a pre-dawn morning object visible to naked eyes, along with Mercury.

After the Sun sets, a 62%-lit Moon will pass 5° from Aldebaran, the brightest star in the constellation of Taurus, the bull. This rusty-red star about 65 light-years distant is the thirteenth brightest star in the night sky. 

Constellation of the week: Lepus, the rabbit

You known the constellation of Orion, but have you ever looked beneath it? Visible late at night as Orion rises higher in the sky, Lepus can be found immediately underneath its more famous neighbor. Look between bright star Rigel in Orion and very bright star Sirius on the left and you’ll find the shape of a rabbit. 

Times and dates given apply to mid-northern latitudes. For the most accurate location-specific information consult online planetariums like Stellarium and The Sky Live. Check planet-rise/planet-set, sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset times for where you are. 

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes. 

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