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skythismonth
THE SKY THIS MONTH: A clash of two galaxies

Think you’re still when you’re sitting down? Think again. You’re actually moving thousands of kilometres per minute.
That’s because the Earth and everything in our Milky Way galaxy is on a collision course with the Andromeda galaxy.
Don’t worry, it’s not suppose to happen for another four billion years. Currently we’re 2.5 million light years apart, explained McMaster astronomer Laura Parker, who recently gave a talk to the club about galaxy evolution.
When this clash happens, the hundreds of billions of stars making up each spiral galaxy will merge into one gigantic elliptical galaxy. Also, the night sky will not be the same. It will be brighter from all the light of nearby stars.
Here are February stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

Planet watching
The best time of the year to see Mercury is the first three weeks of the month in the western evening sky near sunset. Venus is very low in the eastern morning sky as it drops towards the sun’s glare and vanishes completely by the end of the month.
Mars is low in the south western evening twilight sky and also vanishes into the glare of the sun by month’s end. It won’t reappear until June. Jupiter is a bright object high in the sky and sets after midnight.
Saturn rises near midnight and Uranus is low in the western evening sky.
Feb. 3: The last quarter moon is close to Saturn in the dawn sky.
Feb. 8: Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m., Hamilton Spectator, 44 Frid St. Free admission with door prizes; optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected. Guest speaker is McMaster University astronomer Christine Wilson, who will talk about “Beyond the Visible Universe: Dark Clouds, Galaxy Collisions and the Origin of Stars.” The club’s observing director, John Gauvreau, will also talk about The Sky This Month.
Feb. 8: Mercury and Mars are very close to each other low in the western evening sky at dusk.
Feb. 11: The thin crescent moon joins Mars and Mercury in the evening sky.
Feb. 17: The first quarter moon is close to Jupiter in the evening sky.
Feb. 18: There is a grouping of the moon, Jupiter and Aldebaran in the evening sky.
Feb. 24: The moon is just below Regulas in the evening sky.
Feb. 25: The full moon this month is called the Snow Moon.
Feb. 28: The moon is very close to Spica rising just before midnight.
For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at www.amateurastronomy.org or call 905-627-4323.
Mario Carr, the author of this report, is the club’s director of public education and appears on CHCH-TV to talk about the night sky. He can be reached at mariocarr@cogeco.ca.

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