What’s Up? 2/23

Constellations, Planets, and Astronomical Events Visible in February 2023

Written and compiled by Alyssa Whalen


While winter brings cold winds and slippery sidewalks, it also brings long nights to go out and observe! However, the long nights are growing shorter with each passing day. On average, approximately 2 minutes and 26 seconds of daylight is added every day this month. The sun rises around 7:30 am, and sets around 6:10 pm every evening, though it varies slightly every day.

February’s full moon occurs the night of February 5th. This full moon has two names given by Native American Tribes. The first, and most common name is the Snow moon, named for the heavy snowfall experienced during this time of year. However, the winter months also made hunting difficult, which is how it also got the nickname the Hunger moon. February’s new moon occurs later in the month on February 20th. In the lucky event that the sky is clear this winter, the best time to observe is always during a new moon, since the moon’s bright shine can make fainter objects impossible to view.

February is not a great month to view planets this year, unless Mars is your favorite. Mars continues to have perfect visibility with its iconic red glow in the sky. It will be observable from sundown until 3:00 am every night. Venus and Jupiter are also visible, though not as clearly as Mars. Venus is far enough away from the sun to be observable just after sunset in the early evenings. Jupiter is moving closer to the sun from our perspective. This month, it rises during the day, and sets a few hours after sundown at 9:30. It will continue to rise closer to sunrise and set closer to sunset, until there is a period of time where it is completely obscured by the sun. This is the reason Saturn is currently not visible; it is being obscured by the sun. Neptune and Mercury are too close to the sun to observe.Uranus is only partially illuminated by the sun and very far away. This combination makes the planet very difficult to observe with the naked eye.

With some luck and clear skies it is still possible to catch the once-in-a-lifetime comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) this month. As days pass, it will travel from the northern area of the sky near Polaris, across the zenith and fade near the south western area. The comet will be brightest on February 1st and 2nd in the constellation Camelopardalis, but the nearly full moon will make naked eye observing impossible without a perfectly dark and clear sky. In the best conditions, the comet will reach magnitude 5.0, which is equivalent to the brightness of the faintest stars that are visible with the unaided eye. Despite the obstacles to naked eye observers, the comet will be visible with a telescope until March, but with a rapidly decreasing brightness. An article on EarthSky recommends waiting until February 10th if this is your first time trying to locate a comet. It will be close to Mars and the constellation Taurus at that time (western sky at sunset), and it can be captured in a 30 second long exposure. This is a wonderful opportunity for amature astronomers, space enthusiasts and students of all kinds to explore Earth’s night sky.

(February 2, 6am)

Auriga is a lesser known constellation that is directly overhead between sundown and midnight. Auriga is Latin for Charioteer, and it is located on top of Taurus. In fact, the two constellations share the star Elnath, which is known as both Beta Tauri and Gamma Aurigae. While looking for Taurus is the easiest way to find Auriga, it can also be identified by the bright star Capella that is located to the west of the constellation Gemini.

Northwest of Auriga is the constellation Perseus, named for the mythological Greek hero. Perseus is most well known to be the home of the Alpha Persei Star Cluster. This cluster is found through the star Mirfak, the brightest star in Perseus; however, the star cluster contains many stars within the constellation.

North of Perseus is Camelopardalis. Its name translates to “spotted camel,” so despite expectations, the constellation actually depicts a giraffe. The stars outlining the constellation are extremely faint to view with the naked eye, and can only be seen in dark skies.










Snow Moon: https://www.space.com/35627-february-full-moon.html Image credit: Ozkan Bilgin/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Solar System Orbits: https://www.theplanetstoday.com/

Comet Location: https://stellarium-web.org/

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF): https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/new-comet-might-get-bright-enough-for-binoculars/ Image by Luke Oxlade

Constellations: https://stellarium-web.org/

Have a Good Summer!

In the midst of the crazy week of finals, just remember that summer is just up ahead! Astro Society wishes everyone the best of luck with their exams and the summer fun that will come after.

Be sure to keep a lookout for information about Astro Society summer 2022 meetings! We plan on continuing to have fun and love space, with weekly episodes of Cosmos via zoom, and more!

Make sure to join our email list and Discord for up-to-date announcements and information, as well as our GroupMe for some random fun!

Summer 2020 – Spring 2021 Meeting Archives

Here you can view our past meetings and their recordings for Summer 2020 to Spring 2021.

Spring Meetings

Thursday, January 14th: 7:00pm Deadlines and REU’s with David Zach

For our first meeting of the semester, we welcome David Zach, Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisor, to share upcoming deadlines and REU information. There will also be an opportunity to ask any questions you have.

Thursday, January 21st: 7:00pm Spring Symposium

This week we will have short presentations from our members and officers on interesting astronomy topics. If you want to present yourself, just add your name to this form.

Thursday, January 28th: 7:00pm Debating the End of the Universe

At this meeting, we welcome a special guest, Harrison Blake, as he presents on the End of the Universe. There will be a group discussion afterward.

Thursday, February 4th: 7:00pm Game Night

The executive board will be introducing new committees and discuss the upcoming election. We will then break off into groups to play games such as chess, among us, Jackbox, etc.

Thursday, February 11th: 7:00pm The Last Stargazers with Emily Levesque

This week, we welcome astronomer Emily Levesque to discuss her newest book The Last Stargazersand take questions on her Colloquium talk.

Thursday, February 18th: 7:00pm Perseverance and Social Hour

Join us this week as we watch the Perseverance Rover landing on Mars and then have a social hour to chat, play games, relax, and even work on homework.

Thursday, February 25th: 7:00pm Elections

At this meeting, we will be conducting our annual elections. You can apply for a position here.

Thursday, March 4th: 7:00pm Spaace Policy Discussion with Dr. Horack

We will be welcoming Dr. Horack, the Neil Armstrong Chair in Aerospace Policy, to help lead a discussion on the US and the world’s plans in space, answer questions, and more! We hope to see you there

Thursday, March 11th: 7:00pm Guest Speaker Dr. Amy Sardone

Dr. Amy Sardone, NSF Astronomy & Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow, will be joining us for a presentation on nearby galaxies.

Thursday, March 18th: 7:00pm Astro Society Food Reviews

From pickle pizza to peanut butter burgers, we are going to spend this meeting reviewing weird food combos. Feel free to come with your own weird food recommendations or criticism to the discussion. Afterward, we will attend the OSAA Public Lecture, “Monsters in the Cosmos: The 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics.”

Tuesday, March 23rd: 6:00pm SPS (Society of Physics Students) Meeting

This week we will be having a special joint meeting with SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma. SPS will be hosting Prof. Chris Hammel, who will be talking about the Center for Emergent Materials (CEM) at the OSU Physics Department.

Thursday, April 8th: 7:00pm Guest Speaker Caroline Juang

We will welcome Caroline Juang, a Ph.D. student at Columbia University. They will speak on their past work in NASA citizen science landslide research.

Thursday, April 15th: 7:00pm Senior Night

At this meeting, some of our upperclassman members will share a bit about their experience in research and college in general.

Thursday, April 22th: 7:00pm Green Bank Birthday Celebration

We have a special meeting this week, as we will be joining in on the Green Bank Birthday Celebration and learning about the future of the GBT.

Fall Meetings

As of now, all fall meetings will be done over Zoom or a similar platform. If you miss a meeting, they will be posted under the “weekly meetings” tab and on our YouTube page.

Thursday, August 27th: 7:00pm  Welcome Meeting and “Meet the Officers”

The executive board will introduce themselves, and share information about the club. Plans for the upcoming term will also be discussed, with the opportunity for new and returning members to share ideas for meetings. At the end of the meeting, there will be an astronomy trivia game!

Thursday, September 3rd: 7:00pm Planetarium Information and Resources!

We will be having a discussion about OSU’s Arne Slettebak Planetarium. Although the planetarium is currently not open at full capacity, we will talk about ways that you can get involved, even as a non-astronomy or physics major! We also plan to discuss some resources that can be used for observational astronomy. We hope that you will join us!

Thursday, September 10th: 7:00pm Scholarship and Intern Opportunities” featuring Anna Voelker

Outreach Coordinator, Anna Voelker, for the Astronomy Department at Ohio State will be talking about some scholarship, research, and internship opportunities available to students!

Thursday, September 10th: 7:00pm Astrophotography” with the PES and Griffin Gillespie

The Astronomical Society will be collaborating with the Photography Enthusiast Society to learn about astrophotography! Both clubs will introduce themselves and we’ll present some basic stargazing tips. PES’s guest speaker, Griffin Gillespie, will then dive into astrophotography basics.

Thursday, September 17th: 7:00pm The Eye at Night” featuring Brad Hoehne

The Astronomical Society will be welcoming Brad Hoehne. Brad is the current designer and director of the John Glenn Astronomy Park (JGAP) in Hocking Hills State Park. He will be sharing information on the function of the human eye, and how it pertains to Astronomy. He will also talk about several aspects of JGAP. We hope to see all of you there, virtually!

Thursday, October 1st: 7:00pm “Cosmic Horizons” featuring Chuck Allen

Chuck Allen, Vice-President of the 18,000-member Astronomical League, will be joining the Astronomical Society for a presentation on Cosmic Horizons. Cosmic Horizons explores the limits of human visibility imposed by planetary curvature, photon sensitivity of the human eye, and the speed of light in an expanding universe.

Thursday, October 8th: 7:00pm Halloween Movie Night

For this meeting, we will be having a Halloween movie night! It’s a nice way to relax with friends during the midterm season. The movie will be announced in our weekly email.

Thursday, October 15th: 7:00pm Constitution Discussion

This meeting will be covering the Astro Society Constitution. The eBoard will be discussing changes for the constitution and will open the floor for suggestions of other changes.

Thursday, October 22nd: 7:00pm Astronomy Talk” with Todd Thompson and David Zach

At this meeting, we welcome Astronomy Undergraduate Academic Advisor David Zach and Astronomy Department Interim Chair, Dr. Todd Thompson. David Zach & Wayne Schlingman will discuss Pass/No Pass procedures for classes and survival skills for the end of the semester. Dr. Thompson will introduce himself and discuss how to reach out to him and the department for support and resources.

Thursday, October 29th: 7:00pm Sonification” with Locke Patton

For this spooky meeting, we welcome Harvard University Astrophysics Graduate Student Locke Patton. Locke has helped develop sonification techniques of light curves to bring ‘sound’ to different objects in the universe, like supernovae, for the citizen science project TransientZoo.

Thursday, November 5th: 7:00pm Exoplanets” with Romy Rodriguez Martinez & Anusha Pai 

For this meeting, we welcome Romy Rodriguez Martinez and Anusha Pai, Ohio State University graduate students researching exoplanets! Romy and Anusha will discuss their current research on exoplanets.

Thursday, November 12th: 7:00pm “Astronomy Talk” with Fraser Cain

For this meeting, we welcome Fraser Cain, publisher of Universe Today, content creator for his YouTube channel Fraser Cain, and co-host of Astronomy Cast and Weekly Space Hangout. We’ll be having an open discussion with him about ANYTHING astronomy!

Thursday, November 19th: 7:00pm Exoplanets (TRAPPIST-1)” with Eric Agol

At this meeting we welcome Dr. Eric Agol, Astronomy Professor at the University of Washington, to discuss his research on Exoplanets. More specifically Earth-sized transiting exoplanets in the TRAPPIST-1 system.

Bi-weekly Summer Meetings

Thursday, July 16th: 7:00 pm What to Look for in the Night Sky

Members of the Astro Society executive board, along with SEDS leader Melissa Mikalsen, will be giving short presentations about different astronomy topics.

Thursday, August 13th: 7:00 pm The Perseids

Austin Hill, Astro Society Treasurer, presents the upcoming Perseid Meteor Shower. The executive board also discusses the upcoming year.

Society of Physics Students Meeting is TONIGHT

For this week’s meeting, Astro Society will be joining the Society of Physics Students (SPS) meeting tonight at 6 pm! SPS will be hosting Prof. Chris Hammel, who will be talking about the Center for Emergent Materials (CEM) at the OSU Physics Department. Let’s represent Astro Society and show support for SPS! The link to tonight’s meeting can be found here.

Spring Symposium

Join us this Thursday, January 21st at 7:00 pm EST for our Spring Symposium. Members and officers will be giving short presentations on astronomy topics they’re passionate about. Be sure to stick around for our ‘after hours’ presenters. If you’re interested in presenting, just add your name to this form.

Star Party Updates

Due to university COVID-19 guidelines, we are currently not having any in-person gatherings. We still plan on having virtual “star parties,” and will adjust to in-person dependent on COVID-19 guidelines.

**UPDATED** 9/14/19 Star Party

*** UPDATED 9/12/19 : Due to poor observing conditions on Friday, the star party has been moved to Saturday, September 14! ***

The Astronomical Society will be hosting the first star party of the semester on Saturday, September 14th from 8:00 – 11:00PM (weather permitting) on the roof of Smith Lab! This event will be open to the public, so feel free to bring all your friends and family!

Hope to see you there!