The moon was brilliantly full for the day of lovers on February 14, but the light-filled fun extends through the weekend, as Venus joins in with its most brilliant show of light for 2014.
On Saturday February 15 the morning star blazes at its brightest for 2014, and in the evening the almost-full moon, which was 100 percent full at exactly 6:53 p.m. on Valentine’s Day, will be hanging out near the bright star Regulus. In fact it follows the brightest star in Leo the Lion, all night long, according to Earthsky.org.
“The two celestial luminaries are found in the east at nightfall and early evening,” Earthsky.org said. “They climb highest up for the night around midnight and sit low in the west as darkness gives way to dawn.”
Among the many names for February’s full moon is the Snow Moon, and with hip-deep snow across huge swathes of the United States, the name seems especially apt this year. Other names include the Abenaki piaôdagos, or makes branches fall in pieces moon, according to the Western Washington University Planetarium. There’s also wapicuummilcum, or ice in river is gone moon, though this year the Algonquin name does not quite fit. The Arapaho name is the fanciful frost sparkling in the sun, while the Comanche of the southern plains call it the sleet moon. In the Northern Plains the Lakota call it cannapopa wi, or moon when the trees crack because of the cold. ‘Nuf said.
No matter what this chilliest moon of the year is called, the February full moon will move on from Regulus and to pair with a number of showy stars and planetary alignments as the week unfolds. In fact the moon, Mars and Spica the star will be visible together on February 18 and 19, according to Earthsky.org.
“On February 19 after 11 p.m. just after moonrise, the red planet Mars will make its fiery appearance,” says Sky and Telescope, which provides diagrams for locating all the sights. “Go out after 11 tonight, and low in the east-southeast, where the Moon has just risen or is about to rise, you'll find bright, fiery Mars with Spica to its right.”
On Monday February 17, the bright star Sirius is at its highest in the sky at 8 or 9 p.m. in the south, according to Sky and Telescope.
Moving on to morning, early risers might even see their shadow as they gaze at Venus in the pre-dawn light.