Here are the Moon phases in the Northern hemisphere for February 2011 and other interesting things of note in the sky.
3rd February: New Moon
11th February: First Quarter
18th February: Full Moon
24th February: Last Quarter
The cold, dark winter nights continue – which make things perfect for stargazing! Check out my post on the Top 5 Winter Night Sky Objects which include The Andromeda Galaxy, The Great Square of Pegasus, Aldebaran (the red eye of Taurus the bull) and the Pleiades (also known as the Seven Sisters).
One of the most distinct and interesting areas of the sky to discover at this time of year is the constellation of Orion. Orion is also the focus of Star Count Week running from 31st January till 6th February in the UK. The search is on to find which part of the country has the darkest skies and you can help by counting the stars within the constellation of Orion as outlined in the image below:
Once you’ve counted the stars you can see in that patch of sky, submit your results. Star Count Week is organised by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and the Campaign for Dark Skies.
Derek’s Tips for Stargazing
• Sit in a dimly lit room for a good 10 to 15minutes before going out to look into the sky. This allows your eyes to grow accustom to low light and you’ll see the night sky objects much better.
• Try to avoid using a torch as this will dazzle you. If you have to, cover a white torch with a red filter to find your way around safely.
• You should be able to see all these objects with just your eyes, but if you have binoculars or a telescope you’ll see them in much greater detail.
• Always wrap up warm when looking at the sky at night, especially in the winter. It’s better to put on more layers, that you can remove if you are too hot, than to go out with too few and be cold. Take a hot drink in a flask, a snack and some company cause it’s always better to share in the wonder!