January 7, 2022: Mars is visible before sunrise, while Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter – along with the crescent moon – are in the evening sky. Venus is nearing inferior conjunction and an appearance in the morning sky.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:18 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:36 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Mercury is at its greatest elongation this morning at 5:04 a.m. CST. It appears in the southwest, near Saturn, after sunset. Venus is nearing its inferior conjunction, between Earth and the sun tomorrow, when is only 25 million miles from our world, the nearest planet to Earth.
Venus quickly emerges from bright morning twilight into the southeastern sky before sunup in less than a week and near Mars at month’s end.
Mars continues is slow climb into the morning sky. Forty-five minutes before sunrise, it is over 10° up in the southeastern sky and 8.8° to the lower left of Antares.
Mars is the first bright planet that appears in the morning sky in the new year. Brilliant Venus follows quickly after its inferior conjunction. Saturn and Jupiter then appear after their solar conjunctions. Before the giant planets appear, Mercury makes a brief morning sojourn into the predawn sky.
All five planets and the moon are visible before sunup during mid-to-late June.
At forty-five minutes after sunset and about 12 hours after its greatest separation from the sun – known as its greatest elongation – Mercury is nearly 8° up in the southwest. Find a clear horizon in that direction.
Saturn is 5.8° to the upper left of the speedy planet. Both are in the same binocular field. Mercury is distinctly brighter than Saturn.
Jupiter is 19.2° to the upper left of Saturn. The Jovian Giant is opening a large gap to Ringed Wonder. Both large planets are moving eastward along the plane of the solar system and against the stars. Jupiter is in Aquarius, while Saturn is slowly moving in Capricornus.
The crescent moon – 32% illuminated – is nearly 25° to the upper left of Jupiter.
Notice that the lunar crescent and the three planets are nearly in a line. From Earth, we see the planets along the plane of the solar system, known as the ecliptic. The planets do not line up exactly on the ecliptic, but you can generally trace part of it from Mercury to the moon. The trio of evening planets is slightly below the plane, while the moon is over 5° below it tonight.
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