February 2014 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. 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. The position of the Moon relative to the planets and stars changes throughout the night. Generally, when a position is given, it is for the period about 45 minutes after sunset or 45 minutes before sunrise. Do not confuse the times of the Full Moon phases for the times of Moonrise and Moonset. Consult local charts for rise and set times.

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.

Compared to most months, February offers little in the way of specific nighttime photo events, celestial or otherwise. The zodiacal light is a notable exception, visible this year on February 1st and from the 17th until March 2.

I should also mention Valentine’s Day. While there usually isn’t anything going on with the holiday that would interest a night photographer, it does offer the perfect opportunity to play with light painting. Get outside with your significant other and have some fun painting hearts and Cupids and arrows with a red-gelled flashlight

For general night shooting, February is January’s twin, hence much of the info below is a duplicate of last month’s calendar. This is a good month for photographing skylines and some types of cityscapes. It’s cold and it gets dark early, so more people will be inside with the lights on early in the evening. Distant city views usually have less smog than in summer months. Street scenes can work well, since there are fewer people on the sidewalks who might interfere with the composition.

Also, the long nights of February are perfect for shooting night-sky scenes. At mid-latitudes, you have more than 10 hours of total darkness all month long. Digital camera sensors create far less noise in cold temperatures than they do when it’s warm, so February’s weather is an asset in that regard.

Winter trees make good night subjects, either as the main component of the composition or as a foreground to a night-sky scene. The lack of foliage makes it less of a problem for shooting on windy nights and the graphic lines of the bare trunks and limbs work beautifully for light painting.

The best time to shoot landscapes illuminated by the light of the Moon is when there is snow on the ground. The snow reflects much of the light and helps evenly illuminate the scene. It’s even better if you can catch it with the snow clinging to the trees.

Winter is an ideal time to photograph abandoned commercial sites and any type of decaying structure. You’re not likely to encounter any snakes or bees and the lack of foliage reveals sights that are hidden in summer. If you’re one of those who likes to sneak into places, you’re less likely to get caught in the middle of a winter night than any other time.

First week Mercury shines low on the horizon in the dusk sky during the first few days of month. It starts at about magnitude -0.5 but fades rapidly. Look for it to the West-Southwest, and below the Crescent Moon on the 1st and 2nd.
All month Jupiter is high in the sky at sunset, looking toward the East. It is the brightest object in the night sky besides the Moon and Venus.
All month Orion, the night sky’s brightest and most prominent constellation, is fairly high in the sky at sunset. it sets around mid-morning during the first of the month and shortly after midnight by the end of the month. It makes a great complement to a wide-angle night-sky image, as well as being a terrific principal subject.
All month Venus is the brilliant “Morning Star”, shining low in the dawn sky to the Southeast. It makes a great complement to a twilight landscape scene. In mid-February, the planet shines at magnitude -4.9, its maximum brightness.
1 The zodiacal light is visible in the west after sunset from dark locations. See this blog post for more information.
1 A very thin Crescent Moon shines low in the dusk twilight sky, looking West-Southwest. Mercury lies below the Moon, very near the horizon.
2 A  thin Crescent Moon shines in the dusk twilight sky, looking West-Southwest. Mercury lies below the Moon, very near the horizon.
3 The Crescent Moon shines in the dusk sky, looking West-Southwest. Mercury lies below the Moon, very near the horizon.
6 First Quarter Moon at 2:22pm.
14 Full Moon at 6:53pm. 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.
17 – 28 The zodiacal light is again visible in the west after sunset from dark locations. Visibility continues through March 2. See this blog post for more information.
22 Third Quarter Moon at 12:16pm.
25 The Crescent Moon shines in the dawn sky, looking East-Southeast. Venus shines to the lower left of the Moon.
26 A thin Crescent Moon shines in the dawn sky, looking East-Southeast. Venus shines to the upper right of the Moon.
27 A very thin Crescent Moon shines low on the horizon in the dawn sky, looking East-Southeast. Venus shines to the upper right of the Moon and Mercury is to the lower left.

 

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