January 13, 2022: Mercury and Saturn are still close to their near-conjunction point. The gap between them is a little wider this evening. Jupiter is the “bright star” in the southwest, to the upper left of Saturn after sundown. The evening moon is in front of Taurus. In the morning, Mars continues its slow climb into the morning sky, while Venus is zipping through pre-dawn twilight.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:17 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:43 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
After last night’s quasi-conjunction, fast-moving Mercury and Saturn remain close together in the west-southwest this evening. The planets are still 3.4° apart, rounded to the precision used here, but they are slightly farther apart than last night.
Mercury has started to retrograde and begins to retreat into bright evening twilight. Saturn moves slowly eastward in Capricornus.
Look for them about 45 minutes after sunset. Saturn is the higher planet in the pair, over 8° up in the west-southwest. Mercury is a tad brighter and to the lower right of the Ringed Wonder.
Forty-five minutes before sunrise, Mars is about 11° up in the southeast, 12.7° to the lower left of Antares, “the rival of Mars.” Antares marks the heart of the celestial scorpion.
Mars is not as bright is might be expected. This morning it is over 210 million miles from Earth. The Red Planet is about half the size of Earth and not as reflective as Venus and Jupiter.
Mars brightens during the year as our planet closes in and passes between it and the sun on December 8, 2022.
Venus is zipping into the morning sky, but still visible in bright morning twilight. About 30 minutes before sunrise, it is about 3° above the east-southeast horizon.
At forty-five minutes after sunset, bright Jupiter is easy to spot, nearly 25° up in the southwest, nearly 20° to the upper left of Saturn. The Jovian Giant is moving eastward in Aquarius.
Farther eastward, the bright moon is in front of Taurus, 5.8° to the upper left of Aldebaran.
Each evening watch Mercury and Saturn open a gap. What is the last date that you see Mercury?
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