Jacksonville, FL — February has picked up right where the rest of winter has been - unseasonably mild - marking the 49th straight month with at least one day of 80+. A remarkable streak. At this point, there will not likely be a widespread significant freeze this season which brings me to the avg. last freeze dates for the local area (remember “avg.” means 50% of the time the last freeze is before the avg. date & 50% of the time the avg. last freeze is after the avg. date) [not shown: St. Simons Island, Ga. - Feb. 16]:
Night skies into early March (SkyandTelescope.com)
Feb. 16 (dawn): The Moon is in Scorpius, just 1° from a medium-bright star known as Graffias.
Feb. 18 (dawn): The waning crescent Moon is very close to Mars. In fact, the Moon occults (covers) Mars for viewers west of the Mississippi. See https://is.gd/MoonCoversMars for specific times for your location.
Feb. 19 (dawn): The thinning Moon and Jupiter sit some 3° to 4° apart.
Feb. 20 (dawn): An even more slender lunar crescent lies some 2° to the lower right of Saturn.
Feb. 27 (dusk): Watch the waxing lunar crescent and Venus, 5° or more apart, sink toward the western horizon.
Mar. 1 (dawn): The month opens with Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn in a tidy line, 19° long left of the Sagittarius Teapot. The planets linger there throughout March; watch as Mars approaches and then overtakes Jupiter later in the month.
Mar. 8: Daylight-saving time starts at 2 a.m. for most of the United States and Canada.
First Quarter - February 1, 8:42 p.m. EST
Full Moon - February 9, 2:33 a.m. EST (Full Snow Moon)
Last Quarter - February 15, 5:17 p.m. EST
New Moon February 23, 11:32 a.m. EST
First Quarter - March 2, 2:57 p.m. EST
A major ocean current - Beaufort Gyre - in the Arctic (north of Alaska & Canada) is faster and more turbulent as a result of rapid sea ice melt, a new study from NASA shows. The current is part of a delicate Arctic environment that is now flooded with fresh water, most probably related to climate change. The full story is * here *. Photo below from NASA/Kathryn Hansen:
Oh the so-called broomstick challenge reared its ugly head recently. The theory that on a certain day (Feb. 10) for a certain amount of time, the gravitational pull of the earth was just right to stand a broom vertically with the handle up (as debunked by NASA [rumored to have started the whole thing]). Well.... it turns out this was a social media ruse (shocking, I know!). This is much like the ol’ stand an egg on its end on the vernal equinox (spring/fall).... that the spin of the earth affects a pitched ball.... & that toilets flush counter-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. As a college physics professor often used to say - such an effect is “infinitesimally small” or, in other words, “immeasurably small”. No such thing in our beautiful, complicated physical world. And the moral of the story: don’t believe everything you see or read on social media! :)
The image below shows the earth’s tilt is always 23.5 degrees which does control our seasons (winter=N. Hemisphere tilted away from the sun; summer=N. Hemisphere tilted toward the sun) while the gravitational pull of the sun & moon help create ocean waves & tides..... but not a broom standing vertically. :)
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