Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, and the bright stars Antares and Spica all adorn the southern predawn sky. The Moon will be joining the party for the next several days - appearing near Jupiter on the 7th, between Jupiter and Mars on the 8th, and close to Mars on the 9th.
Southern sky before dawn, Feb. 6, Credit: Stellarium / Bob Trembley.
This same region of the sky looks very different when viewed from the southern hemisphere; the image below is seen from the perspective of the Perth Observatory in Australia.
Eastern predawn sky from Perth Observatory, Australia - Feb. 6, Credit: Stellarium / Bob Trembley.
The Moon put on a great show during the total lunar eclipse last week; Jason Major took this beautiful moonrise eclipse image:
Waning Crescent Moon on Feb, Visualization by NASA/Ernie Wright
Waning Gibbous Moon on Feb. 6, Visualization by NASA/Ernie Wright
The Moon is a waning gibbous and will be at third quarter on the 7th. The Moon rises around midnight, and sets around noon.
This weekend the Moon will be a waning crescent, rising a few hours before dawn, and setting in the afternoon.
The Sun has a spot! A rather large and enthusiastic spot - which is a surprise since the sunspot cycle is heading towards solar minimum. The composite image below shows a close-up of sunspot AR with very active coronal loops.
The Sun Feb 6 - with a very active sunspot. Image courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams / edited by Bob Trembley.
vvjstudio.com says: "AR has a primary dark core larger than Earth with many smaller magnetic condensations trailing behind it, in all stretching more than 75, km across the sun's surface. Rare "solar minimum sunspots" are capable of intense explosions just like sunspots during more active phases of the solar cycle. At the moment AR is crackling with minor B- and C-class solar flares, notable only because of the sun's recent tomb-like silence."
There continues to be large coronal holes at both of the Sun's poles. The coronal activity of AR can be see on the left of the image below. vvjstudio.com says: "Solar wind spilling down from this northern coronal hole is brushing against Earth's magnetic field today." The solar wind speed is km/sec, with a density of protons/cm3.
The Sun in angstroms - Feb. 6, Image courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.
You can view the Sun in near real-time, in multiple frequencies here: SDO-The Sun Now.
You can create your own time-lapse movies of the Sun here: AIA/HMI Browse Data.
You can browse all the SDO images of the Sun from to the present here: Browse SDO archive.
There will be a partial eclipse of the Sun on February 15th, but you will have to be in Antarctica or South America to see it.
Partial Solar Eclipse Path. Image Credit: A.T. Sinclair - vvjstudio.com
The Solar System
Position of the planets in the solar system, Feb. 6, Mercury and Venus are behind the Sun from the perspective of the Earth. Credit: NASA Eyes on the Solar System / Bob Trembley.
Alternate view of the position of the planets in the solar system, Feb. 6, , showing Mars and Jupiter. Credit: NASA Eyes on the Solar System / Bob Trembley.
This is the position of the planets in the solar system simulated using NASA Eyes on the Solar System.
Apps used for this post:
Stellarium: a free open source planetarium app for PC/MAC/Linux. It's a great tool for planning observing sessions.
NASA Eyes on the Solar System: an immersive 3D solar system and space mission simulator - free for the PC /MAC. I maintain the unofficialNASA Eyes Facebook page.
About Bob Trembley
Bob is a lifelong amateur astronomer, and the outreach officer for the Warren Astronomical Society, and a volunteer NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador. Bob does a lot of astronomy outreach - he lectures about astronomy and space science, and sets up his telescopes at schools, planetariums, conventions, and other venues. From , he was the editor of the Warren Astronomical Society's newsletter.
Bob is fantastically interested in asteroids and near-Earth objects (NEOs), and a HUGE fan of Kerbal Space Program; he is determined to improve the teaching of astronomy and Space History throughout Michigan, and the U.S. Follow Bob on Twitter, Facebook, The Web, and YouTube.