Things are beginning to look up for astronomers
February was a busy month for astrologists and space enthusiasts alike, beginning with a lunar eclipse and a comet passing close to Earth in the same weekend, a rocket launch from a historical launch pad and an annular eclipse at the end of the month.
On Feb. 10, a penumbral lunar eclipse took place. This eclipse, while hard to spot, was visible to anyone who knew what they were looking for in a window between approximately 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday night. It was especially interesting because it took place at the same time that comet 45p passed close to earth.
Comet 45p’s bright green tail could only be seen with high powered binoculars due to its low surface brightness. However, if you missed it it is on a 5.25 year cycle and is expected to be close to earth again in 2022.
The next weekend, on Feb. 18, SpaceX attempted to launch its Falcon-9 rocket from the LC-39a launch pad which is known for it’s use in the Apollo program and for being the last launch pad to launch shuttles before the program ended. However, the launch was scrubbed due to a last minute technical problem. The launch was then scheduled for the next day, Feb. 19, when it launched successfully. The Falcon 9 rocket will carry nearly 5000 pounds of equipment to the International Space Station.
Rounding out the month in space news, on Feb. 26, an annular solar eclipse will take place and will be visible from the Southern tip of South America to Angola in Africa.