October 23, 2021: This morning the bright moon is near the Pleiades star cluster. Mercury is making its best morning appearance. In the evening sky, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are easy to spot.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:13 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 5:57 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
An hour before sunrise, the bright moon is in the western sky. It is 4.4° to the lower left of the Pleiades star cluster and over 10° to the lower right of Aldebaran. Block the moon’s glare to see the background stars.
Fifteen minutes later, bright Mercury is over 8° up in the eastern sky, making its best morning appearance of the year. It is 1.9° to the lower right of Porrima. Use a binocular to see the star.
Arcturus is about the same altitude as Mercury. The star is low in the east-northeast, over 30° to the left of the planet.
Brilliant Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter are easily found after sunset.
Evening Star Venus is low in the southwest in front of the dim stars of Ophiuchus. At forty-five minutes after sunset, Venus is about 11° up in the sky. It is to the upper left of Antares and 4.3° to the lower right of Theta Ophiuchi (θ Oph on the chart). Use a binocular to spot the star.
The planet’s evening movement compared to the stars is easy to notice from one night to the next.
Jupiter and Saturn move slowly compared to Venus’ quick steps in the starfield. The giant planets are slowly moving eastward. Jupiter’s retrograde ended five evenings ago and Saturn’s ended on October 10. Jupiter is slowly picking up eastward speed, but Saturn is slowly closing the gap on the Jovian Giant.
Find them in the southeastern sky when Venus is low in the southwest. Bright Jupiter is about one-third of the way up in the sky in the south-southeast. Saturn is over 15° to the right of the brighter planet.
During the next several evenings watch Jupiter move eastward compared to Deneb Algedi. The star Fomalhaut is to the lower left of Jupiter, above the horizon.
Detailed Daily Note: One hour before sunrise, the bright moon (17.0d, 93%), 40° up in the west, is 4.4° to the lower left of the Pleiades star cluster and 10.4° to the lower right of Aldebaran (α Tau, m = 0.8). Use a binocular to see the stars in this bright moonlight. Fifteen minutes later, Mercury (m = −0.6) is over 8° up in the east-southeast, 1.9° to the lower right of Porrima. During the early evening hours, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are easy to locate. At forty-five minutes after sunset, Venus is nearly 11° up in the southwest, 4.3° to the lower right of θ Oph. Saturn is over 28° up in the south. Bright Jupiter, 15.3° to the left of Saturn, is nearly 29° above the south-southeast horizon. Two hours after sunset, both planets are in the south. Saturn, less than one-third of the way up in the sky and west of the meridian, is 1.4° to the lower right of υ Cap. Jupiter, nearly 33° up in the south and east of the meridian, is 3.7° to the lower right of μ Cap, 2.0° to the upper right of Deneb Algedi, and 1.4° above Nashira. The moon is rising at this hour. Take a long look at the starfield with the planets before the bright moonlight washes out the dimmer celestial wonders. As midnight approaches, the moon (17.7d, 88%), over 40° up in the east, is 5.7° to the upper left of Aldebaran. Jupiter is over 16° above the south-southwest horizon. Saturn is less than 4° above the west-southwest horizon, and likely not visible.
January 5, 2022: Jupiter and the crescent are 5.5° in the evening sky. Look for Mercury and Saturn with the planet-moon duo. Earlier, Venus is low in the west-southwest. Before sunrise, Mars is near Antares.
January 4, 2022: Earth is at perihelion today – it’s closest point to the sun. Mars is a morning planet, while the evening planet pack – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – and the crescent moon are in the southwest after sundown.
January 3, 2022: The moon passes Venus for the final time of this evening appearance of Venus. As night falls, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter are visible in the southwest. Mars is in the southeast before sunrise.
December 30, 2021: As the year ends and the new one opens, the night sky’s brightest star – Sirius – is in the southern sky at the midnight hour.
December 31, 2021: This morning before sunup, the thin waning crescent moon appears near Mars and the star Antares. Four planets – Venus, Mercury, Saturn, and Jupiter – are on parade in the southwest after sundown.