Skywatch Line for Wednesday, February 21st, and Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, February 21st, and Thursday, February 22nd, written by Louis Suarato.

The 32% illuminated, waxing crescent Moon rises at 9:56 a.m., Wednesday, and will set at 52 minutes past midnight. As the sky darkens, you will find the Moon above the constellation Cetus and below Taurus. Cetus is the home of the star Mira. Mira, also known as Omicron Ceti, was the first variable star to be discovered. Mira ranges in magnitude from 3 to 10 over a period of 332 days. Mira, discovered by David Fabricius in 1596, is currently shining at magnitude 6.45, and can be found two stars below the hexagon, or head, of Cetus.

Look about 17 degrees above the Moon for the Pleiades star cluster. Venus will be a challenge to see as it sets in the west at 6:22 p.m., about 50 minutes after sunset. Jupiter rises in Libra at 17 minutes past midnight. At 1:46 a.m., Jupiter’s moon Europa emerges from behind the planet. Mars rises at 2:17 a.m. between Ophiuchus and Scorpius. A meteorite that is believed to originate on Mars, and found in Oman in 1999, will be used to calibrate an instrument on NASA’s 2020 Rover. The instrument is called SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) will identify chemicals in Martian rock samples. NASA’s MARS Global Surveyor, which orbits the Red Planet, also contains a Martian meteorite. Saturn rises at 3:45 a.m. in Sagittarius, 2 degrees above M22, the Great Sagittarius Cluster. M22 is a globular cluster located near the center of the Milky Way galaxy. At magnitude 5.5, it is the brightest globular cluster that can be seen from the mid-northern latitudes. This globular cluster contains approximately 83,000 stars, is about 12 billion years-old, and is 10,600 light-years away.

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