One of the more elusive members of our solar system to observe is the Zodiacal Light. Late February is a good time of year to try to spot this dust that lies in the plane of our solar system. This plane is also called the path of the ecliptic, and it’s where we find the planets as they journey around our sky. The reason February is a good time to spot the Zodiacal Light is that the ecliptic rises away from the horizon at a steep angle, allowing the light to rise up in a pyramidal shape. The thicker part of the Zodiacal Light will be near the horizon and the light will taper off as it climbs upward.
Look west an hour or two after dark on a moon-free night. There is no New Moon in February, but there is one on January 30 and March 1, which means both the beginning and end of February will have dark skies and will be a good time to search for the Zodiacal Light. Getting away from cities and light pollution is also essential.
With no New Moon in February, that means the Full Moon will fall midmonth, which it does on February 14, reaching 100-percent lit at 3:53 p.m. PST. This Valentine’s Full Moon will be accompanied by the star Regulus in Leo the Lion, just to the moon’s left. (Side note: As there is not always a New Moon in the short month of February, there is also occasionally no Full Moon. The next February without a Full Moon will be in 2018, which will give both January and March two Full Moons each, the second one in each of those months being a Blue Moon.)