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Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of February 2019

Posted by Guy Pirro   01/29/2019 02:18AM

Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of February 2019

The Great Orion Nebula (NGC 1976) is cataloged as M42 -- Few astronomical sights excite the imagination like the nearby stellar nursery known as the Orion Nebula. The Nebula's glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud. Many of the filamentary structures visible in the featured image are actually shock waves - fronts where fast moving material encounters slow moving gas. The Orion Nebula spans about 40 light years and is located about 1500 light years away in the same spiral arm of our Galaxy as the Sun. The Great Nebula in Orion can be found with the unaided eye just below and to the left of the easily identifiable belt of three stars in the popular constellation Orion. The whole Orion Nebula cloud complex, which includes the Horsehead Nebula (IC 434), will slowly disperse over the next 100,000 years. This stunning Hubble image offers the sharpest view of the Orion Nebula ever obtained. Created using 520 different Hubble exposures taken in multiple wavelengths of light, this mosaic contains over one billion pixels. Hubble imaged most of the nebula, but ground-based images were used to fill in the gaps in its observations. The orange color in the image can be attributed to hydrogen, green represents oxygen, and the red represents both sulfur and observations made in infrared light. (Credits: NASA and the Office of Public Outreach – STScI) (Image Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Robberto - Space Telescope Science Institute/ESA, and the Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team).



Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of February 2019

Welcome to the night sky report for February 2019 -- Your guide to the constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and celestial events that are observable during the month. In February, the Winter Triangle is your guide to the night sky. The northern hemisphere is treated to views of the stars Procyon, Sirius, and Betelgeuse. Keep watching for the awe-inspiring views of the Orion Nebula, which is sculpted by the stellar winds of central bright stars. The night sky is truly a celestial showcase. Get outside and explore its wonders from your own backyard.


The winter night sky, filled with brilliant stars, presents one of the best celestial views.


Orion, the Great Hunter of Greek mythology, dominates the winter sky. This constellation is among the easiest to recognize. It is full of young stars, dying stars, and many nebulae.


Betelgeuse, one of Orion’s “shoulders,” is a red supergiant star about 650 times bigger than the Sun. It shines with the brightness of tens of thousands of Suns. Betelgeuse is near the end of its life. With the fuel at the star’s core practically depleted, the core has contracted and heated, causing the outer gaseous layers of the star to swell.








Rigel, one of Orion’s “knees,” is a triple-star system made up of two smaller stars orbiting a blue supergiant. Rigel’s blue supergiant star has a short lifespan. Blue supergiant stars are much hotter than our Sun and use up their fuel quickly.


Orion’s Belt is easy to spot. It is made up of three stars, Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka. From the left side of Orion’s Belt, look down to the Great Orion Nebula. Although barely visible to the naked eye, it is the brightest diffuse gas cloud in the night sky. (“Nebula” is Latin for “cloud.”) A small telescope unveils the details and grandeur of the nebula.


Embedded inside the Orion Nebula is the Trapezium, a group of hot young stars so brilliant they cause the surrounding gas to glow.








Canis Major, the Great Dog, is the faithful companion who follows in Orion’s footsteps. Canis Major is dominated by the most brilliant star in the night sky, Sirius. Sirius is actually a double system, containing a bright star and a much smaller and fainter companion. It is a mere 8.6 light-years away.


Scanning with binoculars just below Sirius will reveal a lovely cluster of stars called M41. It contains about 100 stars, including several red giants. Stars in clusters like M41 were born together and are all about the same age.


The night sky is always a celestial showcase. Explore its wonders from your own backyard.


The following Deep Sky Objects are found in constellations that peak during the month. Some can be viewed with a small telescope, but the majority will require a moderate to large telescope. The following is adapted from my personal viewing list: "The Guy Pirro 777 Best and Brightest Deep Sky Objects."



Constellation: Cancer

NGC 2632                    Open Cluster               M44 Beehive Cluster

NGC 2682                    Open Cluster               M67

NGC 2775                    Galaxy                         C48, Herschel 400 H2-1


Constellation: Canis Major

IC 468                          Diffuse Nebula                        P132

IC 2165                        Planetary Nebula        P133

NGC 2204                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H13-7

NGC 2207                    Galaxy                         P216

- IC 2163                 Galaxy                              - Interacting with P216

NGC 2217                    Galaxy                         P72

NGC 2243                    Open Cluster               P134

NGC 2287                    Open Cluster               M41

NGC 2345                    Open Cluster               P73

NGC 2354                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H16-7

NGC 2359                    Diffuse Nebula                        P20 Thor’s Helmet

NGC 2360                    Open Cluster               C58, Herschel 400 H12-7

NGC 2362                    Open Cluster               C64, Herschel 400 H17-7 Tau Canis Major Cluster

NGC 2367                    Open Cluster               P74

NGC 2374                    Open Cluster               P75

NGC 2383                    Open Cluster               P135

NGC 2384                    Open Cluster               P76



 Constellation: Canis Minor



Constellation: Lynx

NGC 2419                    Globular Cluster          C25, Herschel 400 H218-1

NGC 2683                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H200-1

NGC 2782                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H167-1



Constellation: Orion

IC 434                          Diffuse Nebula                        P92 Horsehead Nebula

NGC 1662                    Open Cluster               P39

NGC 1788                    Diffuse Nebula                        Herschel 400 H32-5

NGC 1976                    Diffuse Nebula                        M42 Great Orion Nebula

NGC 1977                    Open Cluster               P40 Running Man Nebular Cluster

     - NGC 1973             Diffuse Nebula                             - Part of P40

     - NGC 1975             Diffuse Nebula                             - Part of P40

NGC 1980                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H31-5

NGC 1981                    Open Cluster               P41

NGC 1982                    Diffuse Nebula                        M43 DeMairan Nebula

NGC 1999                    Diffuse Nebula                        Herschel 400 H33-4

NGC 2022                    Diffuse Nebula                        Herschel 400 H34-4

NGC 2023                    Diffuse Nebula                        P93

NGC 2024                    Diffuse Nebula                        Herschel 400 H28-5 Flame Nebula

NGC 2039                    Open Cluster               P94

NGC 2068                    Diffuse Nebula                        M78

NGC 2071                    Diffuse Nebula                        P42

NGC 2112                    Open Cluster               P170

NGC 2141                    Open Cluster               P171

NGC 2143                    Open Cluster               P172

NGC 2169                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H24-8

NGC 2175                    Open Cluster               P43

     - NGC 2174             Diffuse Nebula                             - Part of P43

     - IC 2159                 Diffuse Nebula                             - Part of P43

NGC 2186                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H25-7

NGC 2194                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H5-6


Constellation: Puppis

NGC 2298                    Globular Cluster          P98

NGC 2396                    Open Cluster               P99

NGC 2409                    Open Cluster               P100

NGC 2414                    Open Cluster               P101

NGC 2421                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H67-7

NGC 2422                    Open Cluster               M47, Herschel 400 H38-8

NGC 2423                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H28-7

NGC 2432                    Open Cluster               P241

NGC 2437                    Open Cluster               M46

NGC 2438                    Planetary Nebula        Herschel 400 H39-4 Part of M46

NGC 2439                    Open Cluster               P46

NGC 2440                    Planetary Nebula        Herschel 400 H64-4

NGC 2447                    Open Cluster               M93

NGC 2451                    Open Cluster               P47

NGC 2453                    Open Cluster               P176

NGC 2455                    Open Cluster               P242

NGC 2467                    Open Cluster               P102

NGC 2477                    Open Cluster               C71

NGC 2479                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H58-7

NGC 2482                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H10-7

NGC 2483                    Open Cluster               P103

NGC 2489                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H23-7

NGC 2509                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H1-8

NGC 2527                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H30-8

NGC 2533                    Open Cluster               P104

NGC 2539                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H11-7

NGC 2546                    Open Cluster               P48

NGC 2567                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H64-7

NGC 2568                    Open Cluster               P177

NGC 2571                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H39-6

NGC 2579                    Open Cluster               P105

NGC 2580                    Open Cluster               P178

NGC 2587                    Open Cluster               P179

NGC 2588                    Open Cluster               P243



Constellation: Pyxis

NGC 2613                    Galaxy                         Herschel 400 H266-2

NGC 2627                    Open Cluster               Herschel 400 H63-7

NGC 2635                    Open Cluster               P244

NGC 2658                    Open Cluster               P180

NGC 2818                    Planetary Nebula        P245



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