Evening sky in February 2020

High in the south-east, the great ship Argo Navis from Greek mythology sails across our night skies, along the sea of stars that make up the bulk of our Milky Way Galaxy. Try identify the bright stars in the three constellations that traditionally make up Argo: Carina (keel), Vela (sails) and Puppis (stern). Vela, or the ‘False Cross’, has been known to fool casual observers with its similar appearance to Crux in the Southern Cross, which lies further south.

Overhead towards the north, Canis Major (big dog) and Canis Minor (little dog) sit close to Orion (hunter) on either side of the Milky Way. Together the bright stars Betelgeuse (in Orion), Procyon (in Canis Minor) and Sirius (in Canis Major) form the easily recognizable ‘Summer Triangle’ (or ‘Winter Triangle’ in the northern hemisphere).  

Venus remains the bright Evening ‘Star’ visible just after sunset close to the western horizon and is the only naked eye planet to be seen at this time. From 18 to 22 February, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn can be viewed roughly an hour before sunrise forming an intriguing alignment with the waning crescent Moon.  The Moon will be in the evening sky until 14 February, and then from 25 February with Full Moon on  9 February.