Each Monday I pick out the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses and more.
What To See In The Night Sky This Week: February 27-March 5, 2023
This week the night sky is home to a rare apparent celestial “kiss” between the giant planet Jupiter and super-bright Venus. The two brightest planets of all will tangle in the post-sunset western sky this week, gradually getting closer before an apparent closest pass on Wednesday. Watch them all this week and you’ll get a time-lapse of the solar system in action!
Monday, February 27, 2023: Jupiter and Venus, Mars and the Moon
The week’s conjunction begins in earnest tonight after sunset in the west. This image—and all images below for subsequent evenings—shows your last chance on that day to see the conjunction, around an hour after sunset. If you get outside immediately after sunset you’ll see them significantly higher in the sky.
Monday, February 27, 2023: Mars and the Moon
As soon as you’ve seen Jupiter and Venus in a tangle look above you to see a 56%-lit waxing gibbous moon beside the red planet Mars.
Tuesday, February 28, 2023: Jupiter and Venus
Tonight is another good time to see the two planets close as they appear to creep closer to one another. In reality, of course, they’re millions of miles apart—their encounter is just a line-of-sight thing from Earth.
Wednesday, March 1, 2023: Jupiter and Venus closest
Tonight is the night! The two planets will appear to pass just half a degree from each other—the width of an outstretched finger held up to the sky. Wow!
Thursday, March 2, 2023: Jupiter and Venus
The planetary conjunction is untangling, but tonight is still a good time to watch Jupiter and Venus close together, with the former now below the latter and sinking closer into the Sun’s glare.
Sunday, March 5, 2023: Moon and Regulus
Wait a few hours after sunset and look to the east with naked eyes you’ll easily see the 98%-lit waning gibbous moon close to Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation of Leo “the Lion.”
Constellation of the week: Leo
If you can see the constellation of Leo, it’s almost spring! Seen in the evening from late November through May, Leo “the lion” is centered around bright star Regulus, which marks the animal’s heart, though its tail star Denebola is also easy to find wherever you stargaze from on the planet.
Object of the week: Regulus
One of the brightest stars in the night sky, bluish-white Regulus spins at 143 miles per second—about 20 times faster than the Sun—but only a quarter of the mass of the Sun. However, this “dwarf” star shines brightly both because it burns so hot and it’s a mere 77 light-years from Earth.
Times and dates given apply to mid-northern latitudes. For the most accurate location-specific information consult online planetariums like Stellarium and The Sky Live. Check planet-rise/planet-set, sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset times for where you are.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.