The Evening Sky, 2022: The evening sky has planetary activity at the beginning of the year. Mercury makes its best evening appearance during April. The moon makes its monthly appearance with bright stars along the ecliptic. See five planets at year’s end.
SLIDES FROM JANUARY 4 PRESENTATION
By Jeffrey L. Hunt
This chart shows the setting time intervals of the bright planets, bright stars near the ecliptic, and the moon compared to sunset during 2022. This activity occurs in the western sky after sunset. The rising time intervals of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars are displayed compared to sunset. Their rising activity occurs in the eastern sky. When a planet rises at sunset it is at opposition.
The three phases of twilight are displayed.
During most of the year, the bright planets are in the morning sky.
Conjunctions of the planets and moon are noted on the chart.
Data for the chart is from the U.S. Naval Observatory for Chicago Illinois.
- January 12: Mercury moves to within 3.4° of Saturn – a quasi-conjunction.
- April 29: Mercury passes 1.3° from the Pleiades star cluster. This is the planet’s best evening appearance of the year.
- May 2: The moon joins Mercury, Aldebaran, and the Pleiades.
- May 3: The crescent moon is near Elnath.
- May 16: Total lunar eclipse is at maximum at 11:11 p.m. CDT.
- August 14: Saturn is at opposition and appears in the sky all night.
- September 26: Jupiter is at opposition and appears in the sky all night.
- September 30: The moon is 1.8° from Antares.
- October 22: Venus is at superior conjunction and begins an evening appearance.
- November 8: Total lunar eclipse is at maximum at 4:16 a.m. CST.
- November 30: Venus and Mars are at opposition, separated by 180° along the ecliptic. After this date, the planet pair is visible in the sky at the same time. Mars in the eastern sky and Venus in the western sky.
- December 7: Mars is at opposition and appears in the sky all night.
- December 24: The moon groups with Venus and Mercury after sunset. On this evening the five naked-eye planets and the crescent moon are in the sky together. Look for them during the next four evenings.
- December 24–28: Look for the five naked-eye planets, spanning over 140° from the Venus – Mercury pair to Mars.
The year is largely empty of evening planets until Venus, Mercury, Saturn and Jupiter leave the during the winter. Mercury pops into the western sky during April. Then one after and another, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars appear in the eastern sky after sunset. Then Venus and Mercury enter the sky to make the second five-planet display for the year.
- 2023, October 23: Venus at Greatest ElongationOctober 23, 2023: Venus moves to its farthest angular distance from the sun today, known as greatest elongation. During morning twilight, the Morning Star passes Leo’s Chertan.
- 2023, October 22: Moon Approaches SaturnOctober 22, 2023: During evening hours, the gibbous moon nears Saturn in the southern sky. Venus and Jupiter are visible during morning twilight.
- 2023, October 21: Three Bright Planets, First Quarter MoonOctober 21, 2023: Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are easy to locate during nighttime hours. The First Quarter moon phase occurs this evening.
- 2023, October 20: Jupiter’s Double Shadows, Mercury at Superior ConjunctionOctober 20: After midnight, Jupiter’s moons’ shadows dance across the cloud tops. Mercury is at superior conjunction.
- 2023, October 19: Poured Moon, See Planet UranusOctober 19: Sagittarius seems to pour the moon into the sky this evening. Find Uranus with a binocular.