Skywatch Line for Monday and Tuesday February 12th, and 13th, 2024 written by Joe Slomka

This is the Dudley Observatory’s Skywatch Line for Monday and Tuesday February 12th, and 13th, written by Joe Slomka.

The Sun sets at 5:23 PM; night falls at 6:58. Dawn begins at 5:21 AM and ends with Sunrise at 6:56.

Monday’s 3-day-old Moon rises at 8:36 AM, by 7 PM it is 20° high in the West, appears 33 arc-seconds in size, 13% illuminated and sets at 9:02 PM. Tuesday’s Moon, rises at 8:58 AM, 33° high, 32 arc-seconds, 22% lit and sets at 10:20 PM.

Evening planets rise during daytime. Saturn is first to rise in western Aquarius; by 6 PM, it shines with 1st magnitude, 16 arc-seconds, 5° high and sets at 6:26 PM. Saturn is very close to the horizon and will soon disappear in the solar glare. Neptune, 18° from Saturn, twinkles with 5th magnitude, 2 arc-seconds, 11° at 7 PM and sets at 8:01 PM.

Jupiter dominates the evening sky and shares Aries with southwestern Uranus. The giant planet glimmers with minus 2nd magnitude, 38 arc-seconds, 49° high at 7 PM and sets at 11:41 PM. Tuesday, Jovian moon Europa begins an occultation (hidden) at 12:50 AM and ends at 3:16. Io initiates its occultation at 9:51 PM on Monday and concludes at 1:19 AM on Tuesday. The Great Red Spot commences at 3:56 AM also on Tuesday. Uranus, 10° East of Jupiter, glows with 5th magnitude, 4 arc-seconds, 58° high at 7 PM and sets at 12:41 AM.

Venus becomes the first Dawn planet, rising in southwestern Sagittarius at 5:37 AM, blazing with minus 3rd magnitude, 11 arc-seconds, 88% lit and 8° at 6:30 AM. Mars emerges from the Sun’s glare and begins a year-long reign; the Red Planet, in southwestern Capricornus, twinkles with first magnitude, 4 arc-seconds, 98% lit and 5 high at 6:30 AM. Both planets set during the afternoon.

Telescopic observers can witness the arrival of a once in a lifetime comet. Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks makes a 71-year appearance in the dim constellation Lacerta. It shimmers with 8th magnitude and appears 92% lit. The comet is known for frequent flares. It is best seen at about 7 PM when it is about 22° high between the stars 1Lacertids and Pi-Pegasi and sets at 9:53 PM; rises at 3:30 AM and can be 23° at 6 AM. It slowly brightens to 6th magnitude in March, reaches peak in April but also slowly sinks at the same time.

Clear Skies Joe Slomka