Night Sky Update - Week of Feb. 28

This is the Saint Louis Science Center’s NIGHT SKY UPDATE for the week of Tuesday, February 28.  All times are given as local St. Louis time (Central Standard Time).  For definitions of terminology used in the night sky update, click the highlighted text.

Information updated weekly or as needed.

Join us for our next star party, Friday, March 3, 2017 held in association with the St. Louis Astronomical Society.  For details, see the information at the bottom of this page.

The Sun and the Moon

Sunrise is at 6:34 a.m. on Tuesday, February 28 and sunset is at 5:53 p.m. providing us with nearly 11.5 hours of daylight.  Even after sunset, the light from the sun will still dimly illuminate our sky for a little more than 1.5 hours.  This period of time is called twilight, which ends around 7:27 p.m. this week.  For those with a sun dial, solar transit or local noon occurs around 12:13 p.m. this week.

Day

Sunrise

Sunset

 28 Feb

6:34 a.m.

5:53 p.m.

 01 Feb

6:33 a.m.

5:54 p.m.

 02 Feb

6:31 a.m.

5:55 p.m.

 03 Feb

6:30 a.m.

5:56 p.m.

 04 Feb

6:28 a.m.

5:57 p.m.

 05 Feb

6:27 a.m.

5:58 p.m.

 06 Feb

6:25 a.m.

5:59 p.m.

 07 Feb

6:24 a.m.

6:00 p.m.

 08 Mar

6:22 a.m.

6:01 p.m.

Moonrise for Tuesday, February 28 occurs at 7:53 a.m. and moonset will occur at 8:22 p.m.  On Tuesday, February 28 the moon will be exhibiting a waxing crescent phase with about 6% of the lunar disk illuminated.  First quarter moon occurs on March 5 at 5:32 a.m. 

International Space Station (ISS) Observing

Visible passes of ISS from St. Louis for the week of February 28 occur in the morning hours.  The best of these occur on the mornings of March 2 and 5.  Use the table below for information about these and other visible passes of ISS this week.

Catch ISS flying over St. Louis starting Tuesday, February 28                  

 

Mag

Starts

Max. altitude

Ends

Time

Alt.

Az.

Time

Alt.

Az.

Time

Alt.

Az.

28 Feb

 -1.3

05:55:14

10

SSW

05:58:07

29

SE

06:01:02

10

ENE

01 Mar

-0.4

05:03:49

10

SSE

05:05:45

15

SE

05:07:41

10

E

02 Mar

-3.2

05:46:01

10

SW

05:49:17

78

SE

05:52:36

10

NE

03 Mar

-2.0

04:55:34

26

S

04:56:47

36

SE

04:59:51

10

ENE

04 Mar

-0.3

04:05:34

15

ESE

04:05:34

15

ESE

04:06:42

10

E

04 Mar

-2.8

05:38:14

16

WSW

05:40:34

42

NNW

05:43:44

10

NE

05 Mar

-3.4

04:48:04

79

NNE

04:48:04

79

NNE

04:51:13

10

NE

06 Mar

-0.2

03:57:45

16

ENE

03:57:45

16

ENE

03:58:31

10

ENE

06 Mar

-1.7

05:30:24

16

WNW

05:31:56

22

NNW

05:34:37

10

NNE

07 Mar

-1.9

04:39:59

30

N

04:39:59

30

N

04:42:14

10

NE

08 Mar

-1.1

05:22:06

12

NW

05:23:24

14

NNW

05:25:16

10

NNE


Magnitude (Mag):
The Measure of brightness for a celestial object.  The lower the value is, the brighter the object will be.

Altitude (Alt):  The angle of a celestial object measured upwards from the observer’s horizon.

Azimuth (Az):  The direction of a celestial object, measured clockwise from an observer’s location with north being 0°, east being 90°, south being 180° and west being 270°

For information about ISS flyovers and other visible satellites, visit www.heavens-above.com

Detailed information regarding all unmanned exploration of our universe, missions past, present, and planned, can be found at Jet Propulsion Laboratories:

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/

The Planets Visible Without a Telescope

Venus

Venus can be seen low in the west about 20 minutes after sunset in the southwestern sky.  Venus sets by 8:36 p.m. 

Mars

The Red planet is currently found in Pisces rising before the Sun and can be easily seen 30 minutes after sunset in the southwestern sky.  Mars sets by 9:20 p.m.

Jupiter

The largest planet in our solar system has started another apparition and can be found rising in the east at 9:12 p.m.  It is currently found in the constellation Virgo and is best seen between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. 

Saturn

The king of the rings is visible once again shortly before the Sun rises.  Saturn rises at 2:28 a.m. so your best chance to see it will start around 3:30 a.m. low in the southeastern sky. 

Constellation of the Month 2017

Over the last couple of years the night sky update has included information for locating a new deep sky object each week.  In 2017 we will change this by highlighting one constellation a month.  The first week of the month will always contain information regarding the constellation, its name, history and other such related topics.  Each week after will highlight a new object to look for.  A variety of objects will be highlighted but each month we will try to have an object that is visible through naked eye, binocular and telescope observations.

The constellation for the month of March is Ursa Major also known as the Big Bear.  Ursa Major is one of the best known constellations in the northern sky.  In ancient Greek folklore she represented the story of Calisto.  The Vikings called the pattern Karlavagen or Thor’s Chariot.  No matter the culture Ursa Major was linked to navigation.  Ursa Major is one of our circumpolar constellations.  It is close enough to the current North Star that all night and all year long Ursa Major is found circling in the northern skies.  In fact a pattern that is better known to us as the Big Dipper can be found inside the Great Bear’s boundary.  The handle of the dipper is the bear’s tail and the bowl is part of its back.  To find the North Star using the Big Dipper locate the two stars at the end of the dipper’s bowl called Merak and Dubhe.  Draw a line from Merak to Dubhe and keep moving above the bowl until you find another bright star.  This will be Polaris the North Star.  Due to its position in the northern skies many have looked to the great bear to travel the world. 

To find Ursa Major go outside after 7:00 p.m. and look to the northeast.  At this time you will find the Big Dipper with its handle pointing to the horizon and its bowl pointing towards the zenith.  The handle of the dipper is the bear’s tail the bowl is part of its back.  Use the map below to explore the constellation of Ursa Major and its brightest stars. 

https://www.iau.org/static/public/constellations/gif/UMA.gif

Our next Star Party will be held on Friday, March 3, 2017, from dusk until 10 p.m.

As part of the Saint Louis Science Center’s First Fridays, weather permitting, the St. Louis Astronomical Society and the Science Center will set up a number of telescopes outdoors and be on-hand to answer your questions.  Telescope viewing begins once it is dark.  Regardless of the weather on March 3, join us indoors in our planetarium theater for “The Sky Tonight”.  Showtime is at 7 p.m.   

This free, indoor star program will introduce you to the current night sky, the planets, and the seasonal constellations. Doors open 15 minutes before show time. Shows begins at 7 p.m. Sorry, no late admissions due to safety issues in the darkened theater. 

The St. Louis Astronomical Society helps host the monthly Star Parties at the Saint Louis Science Center which are held on the first Friday of each month. Our Monthly Star Parties are open to the public and free of charge. 

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