Weymouth Astronomy

The Planets - February 2020

Observing the planets can be extremely rewarding. Everyone remembers the first time they observed Saturn and it's rings or the gas giant Jupiter and it's Galillean Moons. Solar System


Mercury passed in front of the Sun (superior conjunction) on the 10th of January and on the 10th of the month comes to its greatest elongation east. On the 1st of the month it will set about 70 minutes after the Sun and will have an elevation (low in the west-southwest) of 9 degrees.


Venus is now dominating the south-western twilight sky and appears higher each night. Rising from 29 degrees above the horizon to more than 38 degrees at sunset.


Mars can be seen towards the southeast in the pre-dawn sky at the start of the month. It then rises some three hours before the Sun and will be best seen at around 7am having an elevation of 8 degrees.


As February begins Jupiter rises more than 90 minutes before the Sun shining at magnitude of -1.9. During the month it brightens to magnitude -2.0. A low south-eastern horizon will be required to observe this gas giant and its Gallilean moons.


Saturn, the ringed planet passed directly behind the Sun on the 13th of January and as February begins will rise less than one hour before the Sun. With binoculars and a very low south-eastern horizon it might be glimpsed at magnitude +0.58 in the pre-dawn sky.

Information collated from Jodrell Bank and Astronomy Now magazine