February 5, 2022: Venus begins its interval of greatest brightness in the morning sky, with Mercury and Mars nearby. Jupiter and the crescent moon are in the evening sky.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:59 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:11 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Three bright planets are in the southeastern morning sky before sunrise – Venus, Mars, and Mercury.
Venus begins its interval of greatest brightness. This morning and for the next nine mornings, Venus appears brightest to the eye. Scientific instruments may measure a tiny increase in brightness during the next few mornings.
Through a small telescope, the planet displays a thin crescent phase that is about 20% illuminated. The phase size grows to 27% illuminated during the next week.
On February 14, the planet reaches its greatest illuminated extent. It’s an interesting term. Through a telescope the planet’s phase covers the largest area of sky. This occurs because Venus is relatively close to our home planet. It is about 34 million miles away this morning. Here’s a semi-technical article about the greatest illuminated extent
The entire globe of the planet appears largest when it passed between the Earth and sun on January 8. The phase was less than 1%. As the planet speeds away from Earth, its phase grows, while the entire size of the planet appears smaller.
On Valentine’s Day morning, the phase – the illuminated portion of Venus – covers the largest area of the sky for anytime during this morning appearance, and so the name greatest illuminated extent.
Venus stopped retrograding on January 30. It is slowly picking up speed. Mars is overtaking the brilliant planet. The Red Planet passes Venus for the second conjunction of a triple conjunction on February 16.
This morning, Mars is 7.6° to the lower right of Venus and 2.6° to the upper left of Kaus Borealis (λ Sgr on the chart). Mars passed the star three mornings ago.
Mercury, about 5° up in the east-southeast, is 13.0° to the lower left of Venus.
In the evening sky, bright Jupiter and the crescent moon are in the southwestern sky after sunset. Forty-five minutes after sunset, Jupiter is about 10° above the west-southwest skyline. This evening the Jovian Giant sets 106 minutes after sundown. It sets four minutes earlier each evening. In three evenings, it sets before the end of evening twilight and continues to slowly descend into bright evening twilight. It passes behind the sun on March 5 and moves into the morning sky.
The crescent moon is nearly halfway up in the southwest, nearly 40° to the upper left of Venus. It is interesting to note that the moon’s phase, 25%, this evening is about the same as Venus appears through a telescope when the planet is at its greatest illuminated extent.
2022, February 5: Venus, Mars, and Mercury are in the southeast before sunup. Mars is near the star Kaus Borealis (λ Sgr).
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