February is the month of Chinese New Year and the first mini full moon of the year

On the 24th, the first “mini full moon” of 2024 occurs, that is, the opposite of a “super full moon”

You may have noticed that the days are getting longer. The Sun rises earlier and earlier and sets later and later. This is quite noticeable during February – if on the 1st the Sun, in Porto, rose at 07:46 am and set at 17:50 pm, on the 29th it will rise at 07:10 am and set at 18:25 pm, that is, we gain 1h11min of daylight. There are some differences from North to South, with Bragança gaining 1h13min during this month, and Madeira just 57 minutes.

Saturn is almost no longer visible. At dusk on the 1st, it was more or less facing southwest, 15 degrees above the horizon. But, with the planet on its way to approaching the Sun, in the sky, and the Sun setting later and later, Saturn will stop being visible around the 15th.

Saturn's conjunction (when the planet is directly towards the Sun) occurs on the 28th, and the planet only becomes visible in the sky again in mid-April, at dawn.

Venus is also preparing to stop being visible for a few months. This planet, which this month is visible in the East at dawn, is also approaching the Sun in the sky. Despite this, as it is the second brightest object in the night sky, it can still be seen at daybreak, meaning it should only disappear completely at the beginning of next month.

Jupiter continues to be the “superstar” that does not twinkle (that is, that does not “blink”), very high in the sky, facing south at dusk at the beginning of the month, but which slowly migrates to the southwest, where night begins at the end of February.

As for Mars, it begins to be visible again, at dawn, at the end of this month. However, it won't be easy to see, as the planet is 2,24 astronomical units away, or about 335 million kilometers from Earth. With a magnitude of just 1,3 and with the Sun rising about half an hour later, which overshadows the planet, it will appear even less bright. On top of that, dawn is getting earlier and earlier, so Mars will only be at a comfortable height for observation around mid-May.



On the 2nd, the Moon reaches its first quarter and, on the 7th, a thin waning quarter passes 8 degrees from Venus, at dawn.

On the 9th, the new moon hits and the 10th is Chinese New Year. This is a lunar calendar, which begins on the new moon that occurs between January 21st and February 20th. Because it follows the Moon, the months of this calendar are defined by the time that passes between two new moons – around 29,5 days, which makes it quickly out of phase. Therefore, it is necessary to adjust it, inserting an extra month every two or three years, which can appear interspersed between any other “normal” months.

On the 14th, the Moon passes 5 degrees from Jupiter and on the 16th it reaches its last quarter. On the 18th, our satellite is in the constellation of Taurus, right above the “rectangle” of Orion, one of the typical winter constellations.

On the 20th, at 05:54 am, it will not be a UFO that will be passing through the middle of the “frying pan” of Ursa Major. At about 50 degrees above sea level, facing northwest, the moving “superstar” is the International Space Station (ISS). For almost 5 minutes it heads towards the horizon, to the northeast. At peak brightness, it will have a magnitude of -3,6, that is, it will be almost as bright as the planet Venus, which on the 22nd, Venus becomes 0,5 degrees from Mars.

On the 24th, the first “mini full moon” of 2024 occurs, that is, the opposite of a “super full moon”. While the latter occur when the full moon is close to perigee (the point of greatest approximation between the Earth and the Moon), a “mini full moon” occurs when our satellite is at its apogee (the point of greatest separation between the Earth and the Moon) . This is one of two mini full moons this year (the next one is in March).

On average, a mini moon is slightly smaller (about 6,5%) and less bright (about 13%) than a normal full moon, but when compared to a “super full moon”, the difference reaches 14% in size and 30% brightness.

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