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Mercury

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

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.

Venus as a brilliant morning star during February 2019 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Mars

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.

Mars and Uranus during February 2019 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Mars and Uranus during February 2019 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Jupiter

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.

Jupiter, Venus and Saturn during February 2019 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Jupiter, Venus and Saturn during February 2019 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Saturn

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

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

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

 DateRight AscensionDeclinationMag.App. SizeIllum. (%)Dist. (AU)Constellation
SunFeb 0120h 56m 04.6s-17d 18m 50.1s-26.832.5'1000.985Capricornus
SunFeb 1521h 52m 00.4s-12d 56m 13.6s-26.832.4'1000.988Capricornus
SunFeb 2822h 41m 47.6s-08d 15m 16.6s-26.832.3'1000.990Aquarius
MercuryFeb 0121h 03m 56.7s-18d 55m 42.7s-1.54.8"1001.397Capricornus
MercuryFeb 1522h 39m 57.1s-09d 32m 36.9s-1.15.5"891.230Aquarius
MercuryFeb 2823h 45m 40.3s00d 19m 34.8s-0.47.4"440.904Pisces
VenusFeb 0117h 44m 37.5s-20d 48m 35.7s-4.319.2"620.869Sagittarius
VenusFeb 1518h 53m 34.7s-21d 06m 41.0s-4.217.2"670.971Sagittarius
VenusFeb 2819h 58m 29.6s-19d 43m 44.2s-4.115.7"721.063Sagittarius
MarsFeb 0101h 15m 47.6s08d 19m 36.8s0.96.1"891.527Pisces
MarsFeb 1501h 51m 21.6s11d 58m 04.2s1.05.7"901.647Aries
MarsFeb 2802h 25m 05.6s15d 03m 51.9s1.25.3"911.758Aries
JupiterFeb 0117h 05m 57.5s-22d 13m 56.8s-1.933.6"995.859Ophiuchus
JupiterFeb 1517h 15m 38.4s-22d 25m 19.2s-1.934.8"995.662Ophiuchus
JupiterFeb 2817h 23m 07.9s-22d 32m 27.9s-2.036.1"995.461Ophiuchus
SaturnFeb 0119h 03m 36.9s-22d 10m 38.4s0.515.2"10010.928Sagittarius
SaturnFeb 1519h 09m 55.8s-22d 01m 14.1s0.615.4"10010.800Sagittarius
SaturnFeb 2819h 15m 09.8s-21d 52m 43.1s0.615.6"10010.645Sagittarius
UranusFeb 0101h 47m 05.8s10d 29m 51.6s5.83.5"10020.056Pisces
UranusFeb 1501h 48m 31.7s10d 38m 19.8s5.83.5"10020.282Aries
UranusFeb 2801h 50m 20.3s10d 48m 47.5s5.93.4"10020.469Aries
NeptuneFeb 0123h 05m 01.1s-06d 55m 27.8s8.02.2"10030.759Aquarius
NeptuneFeb 1523h 06m 49.3s-06d 44m 06.3s8.02.2"10030.867Aquarius
NeptuneFeb 2823h 08m 36.8s-06d 32m 54.5s8.02.2"10030.921Aquarius