The official viewing session starts at 7 p.m. with Venus and the thin crescent moon low in the western sky. Mercury should be visible at the time of writing (except it is cloudy) but will be gone by the 20th. See note below. The planet Saturn (a favourite of viewers) should be easily visible in the eastern sky, and we will be taking a good look.
Orion will still dominate naked-eye viewing and both binoculars and telescopes will give good views of the Orion Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy. As usual we will also look out for any other objects of interest, such as satellites etc.
Members with telescopes may also want to see two difficult planets on the date below. (Information from the Sky and Telescope website) – Richard McLeod
· Wednesday, February 7
· Mercury is at greatest elongation, 18° east of the Sun. A telescope shows that Mercury's tiny disk (shimmering and fuzzing through the low-altitude air) is half lit, compared to Venus's gibbous phase.
· A telescopic challenge: Uranus, 6th magnitude, is about ¾° to the right (celestial northwest) of dazzling Venus at the time of late twilight for North America. Assuming you can see it at all, you may need a star atlas to distinguish Uranus from surrounding stars. For instance, 4th-magnitude Lambda Aquarii is farther to the two planets' lower right; try for this first.