Mercury passed through superior conjunction (on the far side of the Sun) at the end of last month. From mid-latitude northern locations, the fast-moving planet will become visible low down in evening twilight towards the end of the second week of the month. Mercury then climbs higher each subsequent evening until greatest elongation east (GEE) is reached on February 27th. On this day, the planet will be positioned 18 east degrees of the Sun. From mid-latitude northern locations, it shines at magnitude -0.5 and appears 9 degrees above the western horizon 45 minutes after sunset.
From southern latitudes, due to the angle of the ecliptic, Mercury will be difficult to spot in evening twilight this month. Even at GEE it sets only forty minutes later than the Sun.
Venus remains a brilliant early morning star throughout February. Although, the planet dims from magnitude -4.3 to -4.1 as the month progresses it's easily brighter than any other planet or night-time star. At the same time, its illuminated phase increases from 62% to 72%. On February 18th, Venus passes a degree north of Saturn (mag. +0.6). At months end, Venus rises a couple of hours before the Sun.
Mars continues as evening object this month. However, it's now well past its best and as the month progresses fades from magnitude +0.9 to +1.2. Its angular size falls to about 5 arc seconds and therefore it's no longer possible to spot details on its pink surface. The waxing crescent Moon passes 6 degrees south of Mars on February 10th. On February 12th, Mars crosses the constellation border into Aries from Pisces. A day later it passes a degree north of much fainter Uranus (mag. +5.8). From northern locations Mars sets 5 hours after the Sun, although up to a couple of hours less for those located further south.
Jupiter is now a morning object in Ophiuchus. The giant planet brightens marginally from magnitude -1.9 to -2.0 as the month progresses whilst its angular size increases slightly from 33.6 to 36.1 arc seconds. By the end of the month, from southern locations it rises around midnight, although a couple of hours later for those located further north.
On February 27th, the waning crescent Moon passes a couple of degrees north of Jupiter.
Saturn, mag. +0.6, is a very early morning object in Sagittarius that rises up to two hours before the Sun at start of month. Located above Saturn is much brighter Venus, and as previously mentioned, the two planets they will be separated by a degree on February 18th.
Saturn spans 16 arc seconds in diameter with its rings still wide open at a tilt of 24 degrees to our line of sight. On February 2nd, the waning crescent passes less than a degree north of Saturn.
Uranus, mag. +5.8, remains an early evening binocular object. The seventh planet from the Sun, and the first to be discovered in the telescope era, starts the month moving slowly direct in Pisces before later crossing into Aries. On February 10th, the waxing crescent Moon passes 5 degrees south of Uranus. As mentioned earlier, Mars and Uranus are close together on February 13th.
Neptune is located in Aquarius. The distant ice giant is heading towards solar conjunction, which it reaches on March 7th. Throughout the month it's positioned inconveniently close to the Sun, and therefore not suitably placed for observation.
Solar System Data Table - February 2019
|Date||Right Ascension||Declination||Mag.||App. Size||Illum. (%)||Dist. (AU)||Constellation|
|Sun||Feb 01||20h 56m 04.6s||-17d 18m 50.1s||-26.8||32.5'||100||0.985||Capricornus|
|Sun||Feb 15||21h 52m 00.4s||-12d 56m 13.6s||-26.8||32.4'||100||0.988||Capricornus|
|Sun||Feb 28||22h 41m 47.6s||-08d 15m 16.6s||-26.8||32.3'||100||0.990||Aquarius|
|Mercury||Feb 01||21h 03m 56.7s||-18d 55m 42.7s||-1.5||4.8"||100||1.397||Capricornus|
|Mercury||Feb 15||22h 39m 57.1s||-09d 32m 36.9s||-1.1||5.5"||89||1.230||Aquarius|
|Mercury||Feb 28||23h 45m 40.3s||00d 19m 34.8s||-0.4||7.4"||44||0.904||Pisces|
|Venus||Feb 01||17h 44m 37.5s||-20d 48m 35.7s||-4.3||19.2"||62||0.869||Sagittarius|
|Venus||Feb 15||18h 53m 34.7s||-21d 06m 41.0s||-4.2||17.2"||67||0.971||Sagittarius|
|Venus||Feb 28||19h 58m 29.6s||-19d 43m 44.2s||-4.1||15.7"||72||1.063||Sagittarius|
|Mars||Feb 01||01h 15m 47.6s||08d 19m 36.8s||0.9||6.1"||89||1.527||Pisces|
|Mars||Feb 15||01h 51m 21.6s||11d 58m 04.2s||1.0||5.7"||90||1.647||Aries|
|Mars||Feb 28||02h 25m 05.6s||15d 03m 51.9s||1.2||5.3"||91||1.758||Aries|
|Jupiter||Feb 01||17h 05m 57.5s||-22d 13m 56.8s||-1.9||33.6"||99||5.859||Ophiuchus|
|Jupiter||Feb 15||17h 15m 38.4s||-22d 25m 19.2s||-1.9||34.8"||99||5.662||Ophiuchus|
|Jupiter||Feb 28||17h 23m 07.9s||-22d 32m 27.9s||-2.0||36.1"||99||5.461||Ophiuchus|
|Saturn||Feb 01||19h 03m 36.9s||-22d 10m 38.4s||0.5||15.2"||100||10.928||Sagittarius|
|Saturn||Feb 15||19h 09m 55.8s||-22d 01m 14.1s||0.6||15.4"||100||10.800||Sagittarius|
|Saturn||Feb 28||19h 15m 09.8s||-21d 52m 43.1s||0.6||15.6"||100||10.645||Sagittarius|
|Uranus||Feb 01||01h 47m 05.8s||10d 29m 51.6s||5.8||3.5"||100||20.056||Pisces|
|Uranus||Feb 15||01h 48m 31.7s||10d 38m 19.8s||5.8||3.5"||100||20.282||Aries|
|Uranus||Feb 28||01h 50m 20.3s||10d 48m 47.5s||5.9||3.4"||100||20.469||Aries|
|Neptune||Feb 01||23h 05m 01.1s||-06d 55m 27.8s||8.0||2.2"||100||30.759||Aquarius|
|Neptune||Feb 15||23h 06m 49.3s||-06d 44m 06.3s||8.0||2.2"||100||30.867||Aquarius|
|Neptune||Feb 28||23h 08m 36.8s||-06d 32m 54.5s||8.0||2.2"||100||30.921||Aquarius|