Feb 1, 2012 - By Carolyn B. TylerThe full moon of February may not live up to its name -- Full Snow Moon -- if this usually mild and dry winter continues.
In many areas of the nation, the heaviest snows fall in February, giving the name to the full moon which rises next Tuesday, Feb. 7.
Because the snow made hunting difficult, the Old Farmer's Almanac says that to some American Indian tribes this was the Hunger Moon.
A monthly look at the night skies of the northern Rocky Mountains, written by astronomers Ron Canterna, University of Wyoming; Jay Norris, Challis, Idaho Observatory; and Daryl Macomb, Boise State University, tells us that:
"The next two months will be a great time to study and admire several spectacular planets: Venus, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn and the fleeting Mercury.
"First the obvious: Right after sunset around 6:30 to 7 p.m. in the constellation Pisces you will see Venus and Jupiter, the brightest two objects in the night sky. Then two hours later Mars appears on the eastern horizon and around 11 p.m. Saturn starts it prominent march across the sky, visible for the remainder of the morning.
"An added gift this February and March is an opportunity to see the fleeting and fast-moving planet Mercury. From Feb. 20 until mid March, Mercury will be bright enough and far enough away from the sun to see it immediately after sunset, even with the naked eye. But take your binoculars or small telescopes out to enjoy those amazing planets that have graced our solar system with spectacular views over millennia.
"Oh, by the way, don't forget our winter constellations: Orion, the Hunter; Canis Major, the Big Dog; the angry Taurus the Bull; and the lovely whitish-blue stars of the Pleiades, often called the Seven Sisters.
"What a wonderful way to bring in the coming of spring next month."v
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