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Venus, Mars, and Bode's galaxy will light up February's night sky

In an exciting update from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, skywatchers are in for a treat this February 2024 with several dazzling celestial events. 

According to the experts, this month marks a period of transition and rare sightings, including the movements of Venus and Mars, the opportunity to observe the spiral galaxy M81, and a special moment to pair your Valentine’s Day with a celestial spectacle.


Venus, often hailed as a brilliant beacon in the pre-dawn sky, has been a consistent presence in the morning for sky enthusiasts. However, its reign in the morning sky is gradually waning. 

“Venus is still a brilliant beacon in the morning, rising in the couple of hours before the Sun. It has been steadily sinking lower in the sky for the past couple of months, though, and by the end of February it’s pretty much getting lost in the light of sunrise,” noted NASA. 

The planet is not saying goodbye but merely shifting its spectacle, preparing to make a grand return as an evening sight starting in July. For those keen to catch a last glimpse of Venus in its current cycle, the morning of February 6th offers a splendid view of this bright planet alongside a slim crescent Moon, just as the sky begins to brighten.

Valentine’s Day 

Adding to the romantic allure of February, Valentine’s Day will feature a cosmic coupling that’s perfect for a night under the stars. The evening sky on February 14th will showcase the crescent Moon in close proximity to Jupiter, positioned high in the southwest after sunset. 

“They’re just a couple of finger widths apart on the sky, meaning most binoculars will show them in the same field of view,” said NASA, making it an ideal celestial celebration for lovebirds.

VIPER mission

In an invitation to become a part of lunar exploration history, NASA mentioned its upcoming VIPER moon rover mission, which is scheduled to launch later this year. 

Enthusiasts and supporters of space exploration are given a unique opportunity to send their names to the Moon aboard this mission by visiting the specified NASA webpage for registration.


The narrative of planetary movement continues with Mars making its anticipated return to the predawn sky after a brief hiatus. Since last September, Mars has been absent from the evening sky, undergoing a phase of conjunction where it positioned itself on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth. 

“It’s now just starting to be visible in the predawn sky. In February it’s quite low, and not super bright, but you can observe it brightening and rising ever earlier in the coming months,” according to the experts at NASA.

A celestial rendezvous between Mars and Venus is expected during the last week of February, offering a rare sight for those with a clear view toward the southeast horizon.

Bode’s galaxy

February also presents an excellent opportunity for astronomy enthusiasts to observe M81, also known as Bode’s galaxy.

“This is a spiral galaxy similar to our own Milky Way, but just a bit smaller, and it’s one of the brightest galaxies in the night sky. It’s located about 11.8 million light years away from us, which means, if you’re able to observe it, those photons of light hitting your eye have been traveling through space for more than 11 million years to reach you,” said NASA.

Discovered in 1774 by Johann Bode and initially cataloged as a nebula, it wasn’t until the work of Edwin Hubble in the 1920s that M81 was recognized as a distant galaxy. While too dim for naked eye observation, with the right equipment, viewers can marvel at M81’s bright core and even its spiral arms.

“Locating M81 is not too difficult, with the Big Dipper (or the Plough) to guide you,” explained NASA. “Starting with the star on the end corner, called Dubhe, imagine a line twice the distance from the star on the opposite corner of the Dipper, Phecda. Pointing your telescope or binoculars in that area ought to put you pretty close to M81.”

In the same region of the sky, you can also find M81’s companion galaxy, M82, known as the “Cigar Galaxy.” This pair of galaxies, visible throughout the year in the Northern Hemisphere, offers an accessible yet profound glimpse into the vastness of our universe.

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