This month’s full moon, also known as the Wolf Moon, the Snow Moon and the Hunger Moon, has company. Luminescent Jupiter will take center stage in the absence of Venus, its brighter fellow planet.
“No matter where you are on Earth, look eastward as soon as darkness falls,” says Earthsky.org. “The full moon and the dazzling planet Jupiter will couple up together just above the eastern horizon at nightfall.”
Not only that, but they will stay together all night, climbing high into the sky.
“Watch as this February full moon climbs upward with Jupiter throughout the evening hours,” says Earthsky.org. “The brilliant twosome will reach its high point for the night around midnight, and will descend westward in the wee hours after midnight.”
The exact moment of full moon occurs at 6:09 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, which means 5:09 p.m. central, 4:09 p.m. mountain or 3:09 Pacific, Earthsky.org tells us. Regardless of what time it actually turns full—the moon will look full all night long, no matter what—it will stay in the sky from dusk till dawn, the only night in the month it does so, Space.com says.
On Wednesday February 4, the moon and Jupiter can be seen on the western horizon just before dawn.
All in all, February is a great month for viewing Jupiter. On February 6 Jupiter will be going it alone, but shining its brightest as it will be in opposition—in a straight line with Earth and the sun, and thus fully illuminated. In addition, Jupiter is as close to Earth as it gets this month, making it shine even brighter, Astronomy.com tells us.
On the exact night of opposition, Jupiter will blaze the whole night long.
“Opposition occurs when Jupiter lies directly opposite from the Sun as seen from Earth,” Astronomy.com says. “That means the planet will rise at sunset and set at sunrise, placing it in the sky all night long. This alignment also puts the solar system’s largest planet highest in the sky at local midnight, where it can be seen through the least amount of Earth’s atmosphere for the best possible view.”
Those who are up for some telescopic fun will find it easy to view not only Jupiter but also four of its moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. They will be lined up to the right of the gas giant, in distance order, Astronomy.com says.
However, if the cold gets to you, there’s still time, Astronomy.com says.
“For those in cold climes, clouded out or not willing to brave the chill, the planet will remain fantastically bright for much of the coming year.”