Venus dominates the early evening sky this month. The brightest of planet of all dazzles at mag. -4.8 and remains a brilliant object above the western horizon just after sunset. Given the brilliance of Venus, you might be forgiven for thinking there was only one planet on show during early evening, but there isn't. Currently located in the same region of sky are Mars and Uranus. The difference in brightness between the three planets is striking. Venus is 275x brighter than Mars (mag. +1.3), with Mars 70x brighter than Uranus (mag. +5.9).

A close conjunction occurs on February 27th, when Mars passes less than a degree north of Uranus. The Red planet then acts as a perfect marker for locating the much more distant Uranus. Both objects will be visible in the same binocular field of view and when minimum separation occurs at 8 UT, they will by only 0.6 degrees apart.

The diagrams below show the planetary positions and a telescopic view of the conjunction.

Venus and Mars one hour after sunset on February 27th from New York City (credit:- stellarium/freestarcharts)

Small telescope view of Mars and Uranus on February 27th (credit:- stellarium/freestarcharts)

Venus, Mars and Uranus during February 2017 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Venus, Mars and Uranus during February 2017 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Sky Highlights - February 2017

Comet Encke (2P/Encke) now visible in the western sky during evening twilight
Now is the last good chance to see comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova before it dramatically fades

Mars passes less than 1 degree north of Uranus on February 27th

Minor Planet
Vesta now visible with binoculars and small telescopes.

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for February 2017

Northern Hemisphere
Southwest:- Venus (mag. -4.8), Mars (mag. +1.1 to +1.3), Uranus (mag. +5.9)
East:- Jupiter (mag. -2.1 to -2.3)
South:- Jupiter
Southeast:- Saturn (mag. +0.6)

Southern Hemisphere
West:- Venus, Mars, Uranus
East:- Jupiter
North:- Jupiter
East:- Saturn, Mercury (mag. -0.2 - first half of month)

Deep Sky
Naked eye / binoculars:-
Messier 45 - M45 - The Pleiades (Open Cluster)
The Hyades - Open Cluster
Messier 44 - M44 - The Praesepe (Open Cluster)
Messier 35 - M35 - Open Cluster
Messier 42 - M42 - The Great Orion Nebula (Emission/Reflection)

Small telescopes:-
Messier 36 - M36 - Open Cluster
Messier 37 - M37 - Open Cluster
Messier 38 - M38 - Open Cluster

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