February is not a particularly prolific month as far as astronomical events are concerned. Even so, this year begins with the closest approach to Earth of C / 2022 E3 (ZTF), that green comet that had not passed through our planet since the times of the Neanderthals.
There will also be a little-known meteor shower and, as always, some interesting conjunctions. Some will take place between two planets of the solar system and others between the Moon and one of those planets. Also, we cannot forget to mention when the full Moon will occur and what name this month receives in honor of the legends of the Native Americans. It is not about special moons, bigger or smaller, but it is always interesting to know what they called it and what were the reasons.
In short, in the sky there will always be something interesting to look at, with the naked eye, with a telescope or equipped with binoculars. Even when there are not many dated astronomical events on the calendar, simply looking up is enough.
Astrophotography lovers have been trying to hunt down the green comet ZTF for several days now. The problem is that he is much more slippery than others were, like Leonard or Neowise. Even so, they can still keep trying, with their closest approach to Earth. It will take place tonight at 03:00, Spanish peninsular time.
It means staying up a bit, but it is a good way to kick off the astronomical events in February.
The full Moon that cannot be missing in astronomical events
In February, the full Moon will appear in the sky on the 5th. On this occasion, it is known as the Snow Moon, since it was the time when the heaviest snowfall occurred in the territory of the ancient Native Americans. In fact, it is also known as the Hunger Moon; since, for that very reason, there was less food available in nature. Plants froze and many animals hibernated, so hunting was also more difficult.
Pedro Lastra (Unsplash)
A rare meteor shower
From the end of January to the beginning of February, alpha centaurids can be seen streaking the sky. It is a little-known meteor shower and also quite mysterious, since it is not known exactly which comet or asteroid it came from.
Even so, it is not one of the weakest. In fact, at its peak, which this time will take place on the 8th, up to 20 meteors per hour can be seen. Unfortunately, the Moon will still be very full and its light will make our task difficult, but there is nothing to lose by trying. With patience, anything can be achieved, so save the date and set your eyes on the constellation Centaur. There is his radiant, from where the stars seem to be born. Although, as we always say with this type of astronomical event, in reality they can be seen at any point in the sky.
Some conjunctions of the astronomical events of February
In the astronomical events of February 2023 there is, as always, some interesting conjunctions. For example, on the 11th there will be one between Mercury and Pluto. Later on the 15th, Venus and Neptune will dance together in the sky.
On the other hand, the Moon will also pose in the firmament along with some planets. Specifically, on the 18th we will be able to see it in conjunction with Mercury, on the 22nd with Venus and on the 28th with Mars.
All these are beautiful moments to look at or photograph the sky. But really, any day is. Specific astronomical events are not necessary to do so. Of course, if you live in the northern hemisphere, do not forget about warm clothes. The Native Americans already said it. In February it is very cold.