As we head into the second month of 2022 and the last month of winter, we will start to see the days get noticeably longer. The sun sets at 18:00 by the end of the month, which still leaves plenty of time to get out and look at the sky without staying up late. Clear nights can still very cold in February though.
Sun and Moon
|Date||Sunrise (Irish Time)||Sunset (Irish Time)|
Mercury is visible in the morning sky this month but it is not very well placed. It is fairly dim and only rises 60 minutes before the Sun. If you want to try and spot it, look close to the southwest horizon about 30 – 40 minutes before sunrise.
Venus is also a morning object this month. It rises about 2 hours before the Sun. Look for it low in the southeast about 1 hour before sunrise.
Mars joins Venus and Mercury in the early morning sky during February. Mars rises roughly an hour and a half before the Sun so it will be quite hard to see. It will be close to Venus and this will help you find it. look southeast before sunrise. On the morning of the 27th, look for Mars, Venus and the crescent moon all lined up.
Now disappearing into the glare of the Sun. Visible for the first half of the month low in the southwest after sunset. Look for it next to a thin crescent moon on 2nd February.
Too close to the Sun to be easily visible.
Stars and Constellations
The above sky chart, from heavens-above.com is for 23:00 on 15/02/2022. You can click on the chart to open a new tab and bring you to Heavens Above. On this website you can generate a custom chart for the time and date you wish. The winter constellations are prominent as the night sets in, but are starting to be replaced by the spring constellations.
Visible in the west will be Orion (the hunter). Most people are somewhat familiar with this constellation and will be able to pick out Orion’s belt. You may also be able to pick out the Orion nebula just below the Orion’s belt. If you start from here and make a line using the 3 stars of the belt you can follow them down to a bright star called Sirius. Sirius is in the constellation of Cannis Major (the dog). This is actually the brightest star in the sky and is really beautiful.
If you follow the line of the belt in the other direction you will come to a red star called Aldebaran. This is the brightest star in the constellation of Taurus (the bull) which has a distinctive “V” shape. Continuing along this line we come to a misty patch of stars called Pleiades or M45. This is a star forming region 1,344 lightyears away.
Above this is the constellation of Gemini (the twins), Auriga (the charioteer) and Perseus. To the northwest are Cepheus (the house), Cassiopeia (the queen), Andromeda and Pegasus (the flying horse). Andromeda is the location of the Andromeda galaxy which is the furthest object that can be seen with the naked eye. Although, you will need very dark skies to see it. Andromeda and the Milky Way galaxy are headed for a collision and will collide in an estimated 4.5 billion years.
In the west at this time of year you’ll find the constellation of Pisces (the fish) and Aquarius (the water bearer). Mars is also in this area of the sky. Over in the south and east we have the spring constellations rising. You will see Leo (the lion) and the plough is now rising higher in the sky. Taking the curve of the handle of the plough and following it toward the eastern horizon will bring you to a bright red star called Aldebaran. This is the brightest star in the constellation of Bootes. Although this constellation represents a herdsman it actually looks more like a kite. It’s always nice to see this constellation appearing. It will be high in the sky in the summer and is a sign that we are heading out of winter and into spring.