night sky

Eyes on the skies – February

Welcome to the Ontario Parks “Eyes on the Skies” series. This “space” will cover a wide range of astronomy topics with a focus on what can be seen from the pristine skies found in our provincial parks.

The month of February brings the promise of both warmer weather and clearer skies. So grab a cup of tea or hot chocolate, bundle up, and spend the day outdoors.

And when the sun goes down and the stars start to shine, don’t forget to head back out to enjoy the season’s beautiful night skies!

Here are our astronomical highlights for February:

The sun

The sun rises in February over a snow-covered ground as it peeks between trees.

Sunrise and sunset times

February 1 February 15 February 28
Sunrise 7:34 am 7:15 am 6:55 am
Midday 12:31 pm 12:32 pm 12:30 pm
Sunset 5:29 pm 5:48 pm 6:05 pm

The moon

The moon has long captivated observers of all ages.

February’s lunar phases of the moon occur as follows:

An 8-part image that shows the lunar cycle throughout the month. Each moon is named and dated.

Did you know that many First Nations teachings, including those of the Anishinaabe and the Haudenosaunee people, use the back of a turtle’s shell as a lunar calendar?

The planets—Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus

The brightest planets are now visible in the morning sky just before sunrise. By the middle of the month the planets Saturn, Mercury, Jupiter, and Venus are all very close to the sun and, essentially, very difficult to see as the sun’s light overshadows them all.

Comets and meteor showers

February is a quiet month from a meteor shower perspective. Nevertheless, observers are always able to see sporadic (random or unidentified shower) meteors as they may occur.

On any given night, in the dark skies of provincial parks, one might see as many as five to 10 meteors per hour, especially after midnight.

A comet blazing through a dark sky with stars around it.

February constellations

There are many popular constellations that are associated with this time of the year. Learn more about Gemini, one of our top picks for February.

Gemini constellation.

This completes our review of February skies

Check back each month as we highlight celestial events through the seasons, or read more about astronomy in provincial parks.