February 2013 Night Photography Events Calendar

Each month I post a monthly night photography events calendar on the first day of the month. Events listed on the calendar are suitable for wide-field and moderate-telephoto astrophotography, as well as for general night photography. The calendar does not include events or subjects that are more suited to telescopes or extreme telephoto lenses. Unless otherwise stated, all events occur in the United States at mid-latitudes. Most of the events also occur at other locations, although some of them may require correction for latitude and longitude.

If you sign up for my free Night Photography News eNewsletter, you’ll receive each calendar two weeks early, on the 15th of the preceeding month. This will give you more time to plan your night shooting.

Times are Eastern Standard Time (UTC-5)

All month Orion,  the night sky’s brightest and most prominent constellation, shines for much of the night. At the beginning of the month, it rises a couple hours before sunset and sets around 2:30am. At the end of the month, it sets around midnight. It works well as either a complement to a night sky scene or as the prominent compositional element.
All month Jupiter is high in the sky at sunset. At the first of the month, the planet sets around 3am and by month’s end it sets  around 1am. Jupiter is the brightest object in the sky other than the moon.
All month Saturn, which rises a few hours before Jupiter sets, shines in the dawn twilight sky, looking west-southwest.
First half Venus shines very low on the horizon in the dawn sky, looking east-southeast. The planet rises less than an hour before the sun and is quickly lost in the morning light.
Mid-month Mercury is visible low on the horizon during evening twilight, with much fainter Mars close by. Both planets disappear from view by month’s end.   
1 – 10 The zodiacal light is visible in the west after sunset from dark locations. See this blog post for more information.
3 Third quarter moon at 8:57am.
10 New moon at 2:20am.  Don’t forget, the best time to shoot the stars (either as pinpoints or star trails) is when there is no light pollution from the moon.
11 A very thin crescent moon shines very low on the horizon in the dusk twilight sky. Mercury lies to the lower left of the moon, while fainter Mars lies below Mercury. Look to the west-southwest.
12 The thin crescent moon shines low on the horizon in the dusk twilight sky.  Mercury lies below the moon, while fainter Mars lies below Mercury. Look to the southwest.
13 The crescent moon shines in the dusk twilight sky.  Mercury lies below the moon, while fainter Mars lies below Mercury. Look to the southwest.
17 First quarter moon at 3:31pm.
25 Full moon at 3:26pm.  Don’t forget, in addition to including the full moon as a complement to a landscape or urban scene, you can use the light from the full (or nearly full) moon to illuminate your scene.
27 – 28 The zodiacal light is visible in the west after sunset from dark locations. See this blog post for more information. Visibility continues until March 12.
Looking ahead Comet PanSTARRS may become visible to the naked eye during the second week of March. If it does, it will make a terrific photo opportunity, shining low on the horizon in the dusk twilight sky. It could continue to shine brightly into early April. I’ll keep you updated through the Digital After Dark® blog. 
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