The Sky Above You – February 2023

By Duncan Lunan

The Moon will be Full on February 5th, and it will be New on February 20th.  The Moon is near Venus and Jupiter on the 23rd and 24th, before passing Mars on the 27th.

The planet Mercury is in the morning sky for the first week of February, rising at 6.30 a.m., and will be near the Moon on the 18th, though no longer visible.

Venus is bright now in the evening sky, setting at 8.00 p.m. in February, converging with Jupiter, and passing very close to Neptune on the 15th.  The Moon is spectacularly between Venus and Jupiter on the 22nd, and Venus is below the Moon on the 23rd

Mars is still in Taurus, to the left of the Pleiades and above Aldebaran in the Hyades, still slightly brighter than the red giant star, and passed by the Moon on the 27th, occulted by it as seen from northern Scandinavia and Iceland.

Jupiter is still bright in Pisces, setting at 9 p.m. in February, near the Moon and Venus on 22nd, when Jupiter will be occulted by the Moon, as seen from southern south America and the Falkland Islands.  Venus and Jupiter will then continue drawing together in the sky, and will be at their closest on March 2nd.  Europe’s Jupiter ICy Moons Explorer  (JUICE)  is about to be shipped to the Kourou site, for launch later this year, to reach Jupiter in 2029 and study Ganymede, Europa and Callisto  before entering orbit around Ganymede in 2032.  This will be the first launch to the outer planets by anyone except the USA, and the first time any satellite has gone into orbit around around any moon exceot our own.

Saturn in Capricornus is not visible this month, at superior conjunction on the far side of the Sun on the 16th, and near the Moon on the 19th, when neither will be visible.

Uranus isin Aries, setting around 1.30 a.m., and near the Moon on the 23rd, when it will be occulted as seen from parts of northern Canada and the southern half of Greenland.

Neptune, between Aquarius and Pisces, sets at 8.00 p.m. in February, and Venus passes only 20 arcminutes from it, two-thirds the apparent diameter of the Moon, on the 15th.  As Nigel Henbest points out in Stargazing 2023, this is a rare opportunity to see the brightest and faintest planets in the same telescope view at the same time.  The Moon is near Neptune on the 21st.

There are no major showers this months, but there are hopes for Comet 2022 E3, which was nearing naked-eye visibility in mid-January.  The comet will be at its nearest to the Earth on February 1st, at a distance of 43 million kilometres.  It’s attracting media attention because of its bright green colour, and because its last solar passage was 50,000 years ago, when our ancestors were still sharing Europe with the Neanderthals.  Online information sites like and EarthSky are providing continual updates, with charts for finding it, and there’s one for the whole month in the February issue of Astronomy Now.  On February 6th it will pass to the right of Capella in Auriga, and on the 15th-16th it will pass close to Aldebaran in Taurus, by which time the Moon  (Full on the 5th)  will be less of a problem. 

Duncan Lunan’s most recent books, From the Moon to the Stars and The Other Side of the Interface, published by Other Side Books in 2019 and 2021, are available through Amazon or from the publishers.  For details and for his other books see Duncan’s website,

You may also be interested in: Duncan Lunan with Howard Hughes on Unexplained TV – Radio Show

A deep dive into the world of Duncan Lunan – science and science fiction writer near Troon, Scotland – He talks to Howard Hughes about everything from space object Oumuamua and the “Black Knight satellite” to the real story of tv inventor John Logie Baird…

You can download the February Star Map here:

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