The Winter Hexagon in Berlin: Tim Florian Horn explains the starry sky in February

The winter hexagon in February
:The starry sky shines so beautifully over Berlin

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  • Tim Florian Horn
Berlin panorama with starry sky (symbol photo).

Berlin panorama with starry sky (symbol photo).


imago / STPP

Our view of the stars over Berlin is becoming more difficult. Every night, street lamps, billboards, shop windows and the light from the houses and flats radiate with the lights of the sky. Many construction projects on earthly transport routes also shine unused every night, earthly consumer temples are to be restored in the style of overburdening lighting design.

Many of the terrestrial light sources overshadow the starry sky, leaving only a few left over from the 3,500 suns that our eyes can see. It is therefore worthwhile to step out of the city to discover all the splendor of cosmic dimensions.

After the sun, the moon is the second brightest object in the sky, if it does not just disappear as a blood moon behind the clouds. The moon does not shine itself, but only reflects the sunlight. The known moon phases are created solely by the position of the moon on its way around the earth. If it faces the sun, it shines as a full moon, the moon stands between the sun and the earth, we see only its unlit side, we speak of new moon, which we have on the 4th of February.

On Valentine’s Day the moon wanders through the star cluster of the Hyades

On February 12th, the crescent of the increasing crescent (first quarter) creeps in the evening sky, the full moon shines on the night of February 19, and the waning crescent (last quarter) can be observed on February 26th.

On Valentine’s Day, February 14th, the moon wanders through the star cluster of the Hyades, the V-shaped head of the constellation Taurus. A wonderfully romantic sight that you should not enjoy alone. Nearby, the planet Mars shines strikingly red in the evening sky, which changes from the constellation Pisces to Aries in the middle of the month. His downtime remains almost constant at 23:23.

So there’s plenty of time to take a telescope to look at our Neighbor in Space, which has been studied for decades by a whole armada of space probes. But the reddish color stems only from a lot of iron oxide, a lot of rust in its rock. You could find that easier on earth.

Some buildings prevent the view of celestial objects

On February 13, Mars overtakes the planet Uranus, which can only be found with the telescope under conditions in Berlin. With Mars as a guide, a good opportunity to find the remote planet. Mercury as the innermost planet of our solar system offers a good evening visibility from mid-February. On 15 February, Mercury will be at 18.22 clock, at the end of the month until 19.25 clock.

From about 18 o’clock you can try your luck and look for him in a westerly direction close to the horizon. Here, too, the view through binoculars or a telescope helps to reveal its phase shape as an inner planet. On the 26th of February, Mercury is half-lit from the ground, half Mercury!

Even many buildings may obscure the last exciting sky object. It’s good that the star chart can show us the way here. This shows the starry sky over Berlin later in the night: on February 1 at 11 pm, on February 15 at 10 pm and on February 28 at 9 pm. Over the northeast horizon, the constellation of the Great Bear stands as a perpetual signpost to the Polarstern. Part of the constellation is commonly known as the Big Dipper. If you connect the rear two stars of the car body and extend this line five times, you reach the Polarstern.

Tim Florian Horn, Director of the Zeiss Groplanetarium, Prenzlauer Allee 80.

Tim Florian Horn, Director of the Zeiss Groplanetarium, Prenzlauer Allee 80.


Berlin newspaper

Whole series of bright stars fighting on the winter sky by light pollution

If you pull the shortest connection to the horizon, we find the north direction. Extending the imaginary line beyond Polaris, we reach the sky-W, the constellation Kassiopeia, which, as a vain queen, has found its way to the stars.

In the winter sky, we find a whole series of very bright stars that can fight through the light pollution of the city. Kapella in the carter, Aldebaran in the bull, Rigel in the Orion, Sirius in the big dog, Prokyon in the small dog and Kastor in the twins. These together form the winter hexagon. Most conspicuous is the constellation of sky-hunter Orion. Three stars form the belt, two bright stars above them represent the shoulders and the two stars the knees.

If we use the Belt of Orion as a signpost and extend the line towards the horizon, we reach Sirius, the brightest fixed star in the sky in the constellation Big Dog. If you extend the belt of Orion upwards, you reach the reddish glowing eye of the bull, the star Aldebaran. This one stands in front of the V-shaped star cluster of the Hyades, which mark the head of the bull.

The third brightest object in the sky is the planet Venus

In the body there is another distinctive star cluster: the Pleiades. The constellation Leo with the main star Regulus (21st brightest star) is also clearly visible in southeastern direction, Arktur in the bear keeper and part of the constellation Virgo already announce the spring sky.

The third-brightest object in the sky is the planet Venus. It has thick, dense clouds that reflect much of the sunlight. In February, the brightness of the morning star slowly decreases, although their sunrise times remain stable in the constellation Sagittarius at 5:15.

With the ever-rising sun, the observation time for this wonderful world melts away. Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, however, can significantly expand its position. On February 1, Jupiter will open at 4:37, on February 28 at 3:10. Throughout the month, the giant planet wanders through the inconspicuous but large constellation Serpent Bearer.

Every star in the sky is a separate sun

From the middle of the month the ring planet Saturn enriches the sky scene in the constellation Sagittarius. On this day, Saturn opens at 5.44 clock, on February 28 at 4.57 clock. With the binoculars you can already wonderfully observe his rings, which reveal their true form as innumerable pieces of ice and rocks only when you look closer at space probes. On the morning of February 2, the moon covers the planet Saturn from 6:51 am to 7:38 pm. A truly planetary shadow game worth watching.

In all earthly and light-intensive distractions, looking into the stars gives us a cosmic perspective. Every star in the sky has its own sun, which most likely has its own planets.

Perhaps there is more life out there, hoping for more light, more sun, in the everlasting cycle of the seasons of your planet. Just as we long for the longer days in February and we want to see more of our day star, our sun, which will still be preserved for nearly 3.6 billion years.