What’s Up – February 2018

What’s Up For February?

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This month, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we’ll focus on celestial star pairs and constellation couples.

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Let’s look at some celestial pairs!

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The constellations Perseus and Andromeda are easy to see high overhead this month.

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According to lore, the warrior Perseus
spotted a beautiful woman–Andromeda–chained to a seaside rock. After battling
a sea serpent, he rescued her. 

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As a reward, her parents Cepheus and Cassiopeia allowed Perseus to marry Andromeda.

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The great hunter Orion fell in love with seven sisters, the Pleiades, and pursued them for a long time. Eventually Zeus turned both Orion and the Pleiades into stars.

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Orion is easy to find. Draw an imaginary line through his belt stars to the Pleiades, and watch him chase them across the sky forever.

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A pair of star clusters is visible on February nights. The Perseus Double Cluster is high in the sky near Andromeda’s parents Cepheus and Cassiopeia.

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Through binoculars you can see dozens of stars in each cluster. Actually, there are more than 300 blue-white supergiant stars in each of the clusters.

There are some colorful star pairs, some visible just by looking up and some requiring a telescope. Gemini’s twins, the brothers Pollux and Castor, are easy to see without aid.

Orion’s westernmost, or right, knee, Rigel, has a faint companion. The companion, Rigel B, is 500 times fainter than the super-giant Rigel and is visible only with a telescope. 

Orion’s westernmost belt star, Mintaka, has a pretty companion. You’ll need a telescope.

Finally, the moon pairs up with the Pleiades on the 22nd and with Pollux and Castor on the 26th.

Watch the full What’s Up for February Video: 

There are so many sights to see in the
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