Society News and Night Sky Notes – February 2002

Society News Headlines

  • 3rd Feb – Comet d’Arrest at Perihelion (1.353AU).
  • 8th Feb – ASTROFEST 2002 Weekend at Kensington & Chelsea Town Hall, London. (Ends February 9th).
  • 7th Feb – Comet Finlayat Perihelion (1.034AU).
  • 10th Feb – Mercury 5° North of Moon.
  • 11th Feb – Juno at Opposition.
  • 13th Feb – Comet C/1999 F1 (Catalina) at Perihelion (5.787AU).
  • 13th Feb – Uranus in conjunction with Sun.
  • 14th Feb – Launch of Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-109) 4th HST service mission.(Moved to 21st Feb)
  • 15th Feb – Liverpool AS monthly meeting at 7pm in Crypt Concert Room, RC Cathedral.
  • 16th Feb – Liverpool AS Croxteth Park Public Star Party (ends February 17th).
  • 16th Feb – Asteroid Ceres in conjunction with the Sun.
  • 17th Feb – Comet P/2001 R1 (LONEOS) at Perihelion (1.360 AU).
  • 17th Feb – Mars 5° north of Moon.
  • 20th Feb – 40th anniversary (1962) of Launch of Friendship 7 and John Glenn.
  • 20th Feb – Vesta 0.6° South of Moon.
  • 21st Feb – Mercury at greatest Western elongation (27 degrees). (NOT seen from Liverpool)
  • 21st Feb – Saturn 0.2° South of Moon.
  • 23rd Feb – Lunar Occultation of Jupiter from Liverpool.
  • 23rd Feb – 15th Anniversary (1987) of supernova 1987A explosion.
  • 24th Feb – Mercury 0.5° South of Neptune.


Will it be cloudy to-night?, ask the The U.K. Goverment Met Office Weather service.

The Night Sky as seen from Liverpool at any time, Click Here.

The Sun and Moon

All times are in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) For Observer in Liverpool, Merseyside, England, U.K.

Latitude 53 degs 24 mins North.
Longitude +3.0 degs West.

           Jan 31st      5th        10th      15th      20th      25th       Mar 2nd
SUNRISE    07:59        07:50      07:41     07:31     07:21     07:10       06:58
SUNSET     16:53        17:02      17:12     17:22     17:32     17:42       17:51

on 12th
at 07h:42m
on 20th
at 12h:03m
on 27th
at 09h:18m
on 4th
at 13h:34m

On the 27th the Moon is at minimum perigee (closest to the Earth) this year for 2002 at a distance of 356,897km.



Mercury is at maximum western elongation on the 21st at an angle from the Sun of 27°. Unfortunately for the northern hemisphere observes it is not a favorable morning apparition with the planet lying at a maximum of 3° altitude at the time of civil twilight. If you fancy a challenge look for Mercury 6° north of the Moon on the 10th at 07:02 UTC.


Venus is just about starting an evening elongation elthough it will be a couple of months before it will become highly prominent in the western sky.


Mars sets just after 22:00 throughtout the month and is rapidly moving through Pisces. Using a telescope with a high magnification have a good look at the edges of the planet. One side seems more sharply defined than the other. This is due to the planet moving away from us in its larger orbit and presenting part of its night side towards us. On the 17th Mars is 5° north of the moon at 01:00 UTC.


  • 1 Ceres is in solar conjunction on February 16th.
  • 3 Juno is at opposition on February 11th.
  • 4 Vesta is very well place, and will be 0.6° south of Moon.

For More information on Asteroids Click Here.


Jupiter has another interesting encounter with the Moon on the 23rd when, at 02:52, the dark limb of the gibbous Moon passes in front of the planet. The occultation lasts until 03:38 when Jupiter reappears from behind the Moon’s bright limb. Using a high magnification through a telescope you will see the planet gradually being hidden from view. Any satellites on view will be similarly occulted although the disappearance and reappearances will be instantaneous.

Launched in October 1989, the Galileo Jupiter Probe entered orbit around the great planet on December 7th 1995. The Project Galileo Homepage will give you up-to-date information and the very latest images returned.


Saturn, lying in Taurus, also has a close lunar encounter although in this case the Moon passes a mere 33′ (just over half a degree) south at 01h on the 21st. This is an excellent chance to try some photography through a driven telescope where both bodies can be seen in the same camera field of view. A four second exposure on 200 ASA film ought to capture Saturn’s disk along with an overexposed lunar section.


Uranus and Neptune are both close to Solar conjunction, (Uranus on Feb 13th, Neptune is only now recovering from its conjunction with the Sun last month.). It will be May when both planets begin to improve and become observable.


Pluto will be out of view until after April in morning skies.


  • February 6th – 9th Alpha Aurigids ZHR is 10-12 per hour. ( Favourable) New Moon on 12th.


  • February 3rd: Comet d’Arrest at Perihelion (1.353 AU).
  • February 7th: Comet Finlay at Perihelion (1.034AU).
  • February 13th: Comet C/1999 F1 (Catalina) at Perihelion (5.787AU).
  • February 25th: Comet Spitaler at Perihelion (2.127AU).

Plus these pages will give daily and weekly reports of this and other Comets progress.


Apart from the Jupiter event on the 23rd, there are no occultations of bright stars during February.