Brace yourself! The next few days is a busy time, astronomically-speaking, and for those that cherish and mark the passing of the seasons, or enjoy looking ‘heavenward’ to the skies for significant events.
Lunar eclipse: 10 February, the shadow cast by the Earth starts to move across the surface of the Moon. Lunar eclipse.
‘The moon makes love
to the ocean,
and in this holy conception it gives birth
to a little tide.’
A P Sweet
The Moon will only ‘graze’ the outer edge of the Earth’s long shadow and so it won’t be a total eclipse of the Moon. Rather, it’ll be a penumbral eclipse and so you’ll see the Moon’s light grow dim, but it won’t lose all its light, and it may become reddened. The penumbral eclipse will start very slowly at first, hardly noticeable, at 22.35 UTC, but will be at its maximum some 2 1/2 hours later, and then by 2.35 UTC (the next day) it’ll all be over. It should be viewable, clouds permitting, from north America, Europe, Africa and most of Asia, but not so from Australia – sorry, Australia.
Full Moon: 11 February: It’s a full moon and therefore of significance to the ancients, and latter day Christians, Pagans’ Celts, Druids and others. It will be in the constellation of Leo; and this Full moon is known as the Moon of Ice (or, the Ice Moon) to ancient and latter-day Celts, but is also known as the Snow Moon, Storm Moon or Wolf Moon to others.
‘Only the moon’s smile can cure the unseen scars of darkness’. Munia Khan
We can still rightly claim to be in the season of Imbolc – it was only a week ago – and Imbolc has an association with milk, so why not wrap up warm, grab a cup of hot milk and gaze at the Moon of Ice, in awe, in wonder, and with gratitude, and ‘unwind, take time to relax and marvel at the Moon, and/or celebrate the occasion, ritually, in a way appropriate to your tribal, core and/or heart-felt expression, as its face smiles back.
Comet: 11 February and a few days after: Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková is expected to reach its maximum brightness now and over the next two weeks, and will be visible. It was discovered by astronomers Minoru Honda, Antonin Mrkos and L’udmila Pajdušáková in December 1948.
Comet (definition): A celestial body moving about the sun, usually in a highly eccentric orbit. It has a central mass surrounded by an envelope of dust and gas that may form a tail that streams away from the sun. This flowing tail is why it’s called a comet, as the word comet comes from the old Greek word, komḗtēs, meaning ‘long hair’; and the comet’s tail does look, poetically, like hair flowing from it.
The comet will be passing through the constellation Hercules during its closest approach on February 11th, and then it will move through the constellations of Corona Borealis, Boötes, Canes Venatici, Ursa Major and into Leo at the end of February as it recedes in brightness. It then ‘flies’ away from us on its orbit, not to return until the Spring of 2022. It’s best viewed though a pair of binoculars.
And then, the planets: Mars appears near Venus in the western sky for some time, whilst Venus visible for a time and then vanishes into the sunset weeks later in later in March. Jupiter, meanwhile, rises in the east and is spectacular even with a pair binoculars. Saturn rises in the east just before morning sunrise.
‘Late February days; and now, at last,
Might you have thought that
Winter’s woe was past;
So fair the sky was and so soft the air.’