2022, January 16: Goodbye, Mercury!


January 16, 2022:  Mercury is leaving the evening sky, followed by Saturn.  Bright Jupiter is in the southwest after sundown.  Venus and Mars are in the southeast before sunup.

Chart Caption – 2022, January 16: Venus joins Mars in the morning sky before sunrise.
Photo Caption – 2022, January 16: Venus shines from the southeast before sunrise.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:15 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:46 p.m. CST.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Morning Sky

Venus continues to spring into the morning sky.  It rises earlier each morning.  It joins Mars in the southeastern sky.

At about 45 minutes before sunrise, the brilliant Morning Star is nearly 4° up in the east-southeast.  It is easily visible from an observing spot that has a clear view of the natural horizon in that direction.  Each morning the planet is higher in the sky.

At this hour, Mars is nearly 11° up in the southeast, 21.2° to the upper right of Venus and 14.7° to the lower left of the star Antares – the heart of Scorpius.

The Red Planet is marching eastward in Ophiuchus.  It crosses into the constellation Sagittarius on January 20.

Farther westward, the bright moon is very low in the west-northwest.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2022, January 16: Mercury is slipping into bright twilight, followed by Saturn. Jupiter is higher in the southwest.

Three bright planets are in the evening sky, although Mercury and Saturn are slowly disappearing in the sun’s bright glare.  Mercury passes between Earth and the sun and jumps into the morning sky.

At forty-five minutes after sunset, find bright Jupiter, over 20° above the southwest horizon.  At this hour, it is the brightest “star” in the sky.  It is slowly moving eastward in Aquarius.

Saturn, over 20° to the lower right of Jupiter, is about 6° up in the west-southwest.  The Ringed Wonder passes behind the sun later next month.

Mercury is only 4° above the horizon and 4.7° to the lower right of Saturn.  Use a binocular to find them.  They are in the same field of view.

The planet’s brightness is fading quickly as it slips into evening twilight.  This might be the last evening to see the planet as it moves toward its inferior conjunction in a week.  So, “Goodbye, Mercury!”

The star Fomalhaut – “the mouth of the southern fish – is about 20° to the lower left of Jupiter.

Farther eastward, the bright moon is in the middle of Gemini.



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