Weather change to follow Red Moon

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Now we are into midsummer, midway between the summer solstice and the equinox.
In ancient times this was known as a cross-quarter and called Lughnasadh in the Celtic culture. The days are still scorching hot and the nights are short, but this will noticeably change by month's end.

The moon phases this month: last quarter is on February 1, new moon on February 8, first quarter on February 15 and the full moon on February 22.

This month's full moon is called the Red Moon, Corn Moon or Dog Moon.

Meteor showers this month are the Alpha Centaurids. This shower radiates from the star Alpha Centauri, the brightest star of the two pointers that point to the Southern Cross.

Its peak is on February 8, where you can expect to see several meteors per hour.

As for the planets, all the action is still in the morning sky although Jupiter is now rising at about 10.20pm and is the only planet visible in the evening.

It passes due north about 4.12am.

After midnight, the morning planets rise. First Mars at 12.39am, followed by Saturn at 2.28am, then Venus at 4.07am and Mercury at about 4.41am.

This also means that we will be in for a succession of lunar conjunctions, starting with Mars on February 2 making a triangle with the moon and Alpha Librea. Next, on February 4, the moon rolls by Saturn and then forms a stunning triangle just before the breaking dawn with Venus and Mercury on February 7.

Venus and Mercury also form a conjunction on February 14, and the moon and Jupiter on February 24. These conjunctions are great photo opportunities.

Mercury is also at its greatest angle from the sun on February 3, the best time to view it.
- By Brian Hurren

- Rotorua Daily Post

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