Full Moon Cancelled for February
Something you won’t see in February is a full
moon! Both January and March have two full moons this year and
that leaves February without one! That’s called a Black Moon.
This is Messier 82, the Cigar Galaxy.
It’s a +8 magnitude starburst galaxy that’s 12
million light years away. The “starburst” area is located near the
center. It’s an area of intense star formation that was triggered by
close interaction with another galaxy. M82’s activity is believed
to have been started when it and M81 passed each other 300 million
years ago. Astrophysicists believe that M82 is forming new stars
10 times faster than a normal galaxy like ours, the Milky Way.
Both M82 and its bigger, brighter neighbor M81
can be seen on dark nights with the aid of a good pair of
binoculars. They appear just to the north and slightly above
Dubhe (the bright star in the cup of the Big Dipper!)
If we look on the opposite side of the Big Dipper
and a little further out into space, (about 50 million light years),
there’s another pair of interacting galaxies, the Cocoon Galaxies (NGC
4485 and NGC4490.)
With a magnitude of +9.33 you need a huge pair of
binoculars (15X100) or a telescope to see these galaxies. This is
a pair of spiral galaxies that have been distorted by passing too close
together. The interaction also turned both into Starburst
Galaxies with large areas of star formation.
Other things you can look for February 2018
Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn are all visible in the
early morning hours for all of February. Jupiter will start the
month rising at 1:20 a.m. It will be followed an hour later by
Mars. Saturn will be the late riser of the three appearing on the
Eastern horizon at about 4:42 a.m.
Venus will start the month setting shortly after
the Sun disappears below the Western horizon. But as the month
progresses, Venus will lag behind and become easy to see at sunset.
1st Quarter is the 23th
Last Quarter is the 7th
New Moon is the 15th
Lebing is a retired computer scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey
in Washington, D.C. He has visited Hatteras Island since the
mid-1970s. He and his wife, Karen, have owned property here for several
years and moved to their home in Waves full-time in 2013.
Astronomy is a subject that Gerry says he has always been interested in
and one that he pursues seriously -- he's built an small observatory
next to his house. You can send him questions about the night sky
through e-mail, [email protected]g.)