The first morning of February finds Jupiter rising at 1:54 a.m., followed by Mars at 2:58, and then Saturn at 5:27. As the month progresses, you’ll see the three planets spread across the dawn sky.

Also on Thursday, Regulus — the heart of Leo — is within a degree of the waning gibbous moon, at about 6 a.m. Venus is close to the sun, but you may spot her the last week of the month, low in the west at dusk. Mercury is hidden in the sun’s glare through February, but will be well placed for observation in early March.

At 5 a.m. on Feb. 9, a waning crescent moon and Antares bracket Mars in the southeast. On Feb. 11, a tiny sliver of the waning crescent moon is only 2 degrees from Saturn, at about 5 a.m.

Uranus is right at the limit of naked-eye viewing this month. On Feb. 19 at 9:30 p.m., you’ll see the waxing crescent moon low in the west; place the crescent just out of the bottom of the field of a pair of 7 x 50 binoculars, and Uranus will be the pale green spot at 2 o’clock.

Q&A

Q: Could a large fireball like the one seen recently in Michigan knock the Earth out of orbit? — M.B., Dover

A: No. The Earth is quite massive, with a lot of momentum as it travels about the sun. Even the largest strike, by a 10-mile wide asteroid over 2 billion years ago, affected only the tilt of the Earth’s axis.

More to the point, a very large impact would likely have much more serious consequences upon life, as did the Chicxulub impactor 65 million years ago. That one most probably wiped out the dinosaurs. An object large enough to actually change the Earth’s orbit would also be large enough to destroy it.

Programs

The Universe at Large is presented at 1 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. The planetarium is included with admission to the museum. Children must be 5 years or older to attend. The planetarium also offers an astronomy program for adults only on the first Monday of every month at 2 p.m.

For more information visit the planetarium’s blog on the museum’s website, or call 330-455-7043.

David L. Richards is director of the Hoover-Price Planetarium at the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, 800 McKinley Monument Drive NW, Canton, www.mckinleymuseum.org. He can be reached at 330-455-7043, email hooverpriceplanetarium@hotmail.com or read his blog at https://hooverpriceplanetarium.wordpress.com/.