Weekly Stargazing Calendar for 2011-02-21

The next few weeks will be rather uneventful until March 20 when the equinox will occur. The Sun will shine directly on the equator and there will be nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. Until then we can always watch the planets. So here are their positions for this week:

Mercury: The closest planet to the Sun can be seen near Neptune and Mars within the constellation of Aquarius at dawn and dusk.

Venus: The sister planet can be seen between the constellations of Sagittarius and Capricornus. Just like Mercury, the planet can only be seen at dawn and dusk.

Mars: The red planet can be seen in the constellation of Aquarius near Neptune and Mercury.

Jupiter and Uranus: The two gas giants are visible relatively close to each other between the constellations of Pisces and Cetus. Jupiter can easily be spotted with the naked eye, even in highly illuminated cities. However for Uranus you will need a telescope.

Saturn: The ringed giant can be seen with the naked eye in the middle of the Virgo constellation, not far from the bright star Spica.

Neptune: The blue giant requires a telescope pointed in the constellations of Aquarius in order to be seen.

Bonus: The dwarf planet Pluto is located between the constellations of Ophiuchus and Sagittarius. Unfortunately you will not be able to see Pluto unless you have a telescope.

As you know, the Moon has a big impact on the visibility of celestial bodies in the night sky. So here are the Moon’s phases for this week:

Feb. 21

Feb. 22

Feb. 23

Feb. 24

Feb. 25

Feb. 26

Feb. 27