January 14, 2022: Brilliant Morning Star Venus is emerging from bright twilight to appear in the eastern sky before sunrise. Mars is visible earlier during twilight. Three bright planets – Jupiter, Saturn, and Mercury – and the moon are in the early evening sky.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:16 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:44 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The brilliant planet Venus is beginning to appear in the east-southeastern sky before sunup. For enthusiastic sky watchers, it appears about 5° above the east-southeast at 30 minutes before sunrise. It is relatively easy to find at this level of twilight. The challenge is to find a cloud-free horizon without obstructions toward the observing direction.
In a week it is visible in a darker sky. The planet is rising earlier each morning.
Forty-five minutes before sunrise, Mars is over 10° up in the southeast, 13.4° to the lower left of Antares – the heart of Scorpius.
Mars is moving eastward in Ophiuchus. On January 20, the planet moves into Sagittarius.
The stars rise about four minutes earlier each morning. This is from Earth’s revolution around the sun. As we move around our central star, the stars appear earlier in the sky each morning.
Mars seems to be slowly making its appearance. It is moving eastward and it rises one minute earlier every two days. It seems to be about the same altitude – height above the horizon – each morning.
Venus passes Mars on February 16, for the second of three conjunctions – known as a triple conjunction – that began last summer.
At forty-five minutes after sunset, bright Jupiter is easy to spot, about 24° above the southwest horizon. It is rambling eastward in front of the dim stars of Aquarius. Jupiter is nearly 20° to the upper left of Saturn.
The Ringed Wonder is heading toward its solar conjunction early next month. It follows Venus into the morning sky. This evening it is over 7° up in the west-southwest, at this hour.
After its near conjunction with Saturn, Mercury is about the same brightness as Saturn, and 3.3° to Saturn’s lower right. Both easily fit into the same binocular field of view. Mercury is fading in brightness as it recedes into bright evening twilight. It passes between Earth and the sun on January 22 and quickly moves into the morning sky.
Be sure to spot Mercury and Saturn shortly after sunset. Mercury sets about 90 minutes after sunset. Saturn follows about 10 minutes later.
Farther eastward, the bright moon is between the horns of Taurus.
All this action results in five planets and the moon in a pre-dawn spectacular during June when all five bright planets and the moon appear before sunrise.
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- 2023, December 24: Morning Moon, Pleiades, Antares Heliacal RisingDecember 24, 2023: The moon appears near the Pleiades star cluster during the earlier morning hours. Antares is at its first morning appearance, known as the heliacal rising.
- 2023, December 23: Check out Planet Uranus, Pleiades near MoonDecember 23, 2023: Look for the planet Uranus and the Pleiades star cluster through a binocular during nighttime hours.
- 2023, December 22: Mercury at Inferior Conjunction, Bright Jupiter, Gibbous MoonDecember 22, 2023: Mercury is between Earth and Sun, known as inferior conjunction. Jupiter and the gibbous moon are celestial companions during nighttime hours.