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2022, February 23: Morning Planets, Moon, Evening Letter

North American Nebula in Different Lights This new view of the North American nebula combines both visible and infrared light observations, taken by the Digitized Sky Survey and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, respectively, into a single vivid picture.

North American Nebula in Different Lights This new view of the North American nebula combines both visible and infrared light observations, taken by the Digitized Sky Survey and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, respectively, into a single vivid picture. (NASA photo)

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February 23, 2022: Brilliant Morning Star Venus and Mars are in the south before sunup, while the moon is in the south.  The bright stars of winter make a letter in the night sky.

Chart Caption – 2022, February 23: Brilliant Venus and Mars are in the southeast before sunrise.

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:35 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:34 p.m. CST.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Note from the sunrise and sunset times that daylight is approaching eleven hours at the mid-northern latitudes.  Darkness, the interval from the end of evening twilight to the beginning of the next morning’s twilight, is nearly ten hours.  These two intervals were equal less than two weeks ago.  The sun is rapidly moving northward and daylight quickly lengthens.

Morning Sky

SUMMARY OF PLANETS IN 2022 MORNING SKY

Brilliant Venus is “that bright star” in the southeast before sunrise.  At forty-five minutes before sunup, Earth’s Twin is over 15° above the horizon.

Dimmer Mars is 5.6° to the lower right of the brilliant planet.

Venus and Mars are in an eastward footrace along the ecliptic.  During the next five mornings, Venus moves 3.8° eastward, slightly faster than Mars’ 3.7° distance.  This morning Mars is 0.6° farther eastward than Venus.  By the end of the interval the difference in ecliptic longitude is 0.5°.

Mars passed Venus a week ago.  Venus continues to pick up eastward speed after its retrograde ended January 30.  Venus passes Mars in the third conjunction in a triple conjunction series on March 6.

Chart Caption – 2022, February 23: The moon is near the stars of Scorpius before sunrise.

At this hour the moon, 55% illuminated and west of brilliant Venus, is about one-third of the way up in the south.  The lunar orb is 4.8° to the lower right of Graffias – “the crab” – and 11.4° to the upper right of Antares – “the rival of Mars.”

Three planets are near the sun.  Saturn passed behind the sun on February 4.  It is slowly climbing into the morning sky.  This morning it rises 37 minutes before sunrise.  It is too dim to be seen easily. Mercury is retreating back into bright sunlight, moving toward its April 5th superior conjunction.  This morning it rises 63 minutes before sunrise.  During morning twilight, it is only a few degrees above the east-southeast horizon. Jupiter is transitioning from the evening sky to the morning.  This evening it sets 34 minutes after sunset.  It reaches its conjunction with the sun on March 5.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2022, February 23: The Winter W – Procyon, Sirius, Betelgeuse, Rigel, and Aldebaran – is in the south during the early evening hours.

The bright winter stars are in the southern sky during the early evening hours.  Many writers describe various informal shapes from the night’s brightest stars.

One shape is the Winter Triangle, comprised of Sirius, Procyon, and Betelgeuse.

Another shape is the Winter W.  The shape includes Procyon, Sirius, Betelgeuse, Rigel, and Aldebaran.  It’s not a perfect shape, but it seems that the stars are declaring their place during the mid-northern latitudes’ cold season.

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