February 17-20 will have cool things to check out in the early morning skies, plus a rare event on the 18th!
Early morning sky watchers will be treated to a dance between three planets and the Moon from February 17-20.
Around 5:30 am local time, looking towards the southwest before sunset, you can see Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn forming a tight line, with the moon moving and appearing each morning next to a different planet on the 18th, 19th, and 20th.
This is a good demonstration on how the Moon appears to move along the ecliptic, and how it often appears next to a bright planet.
But it gets better on February 18th!
On the early morning of February 18, viewers along the West Coast, especially California will be treated to a rare occultation of Mars by the Moon!
At about 3:20 am, just as Mars and the Moon are rising, you can quickly glimpse the Moon about to block Mars, which it will do at around 3:35 am. And then at around 4:29 am, Mars will reappear on the other side!
If you live along the west coast, don’t miss out on this rare chance. Occultations are one of those events you need to be in the right place at the right time to see. Those living further east will have difficulty, as the event will occur after the Sun has already risen.
Orion Bear Astronomy plans to live stream the event on Facebook Live, so you can watch the event happen live, or watch it later!
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