March 5, 2022: Jupiter is at its solar conjunction today. Venus and Mars are in the morning sky. The crescent moon graces the evening sky.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:19 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:46 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Today, Jupiter is at conjunction, behind the sun as viewed from our planet. Viewed from space, Jupiter, Sun, and Earth are lined up.
Jupiter rises with the sun. Then it begins rising one to two minutes earlier than the sun each day. By month’s end, it rises over 35 minutes before sunup. A month from now, it rises nearly 45 minutes before sunup. By mid-April, it is low in the east, about 15° to the lower left of Venus.
Tomorrow morning, brilliant Venus passes Mars. Today at 45 minutes before sunrise, Venus is nearly 15° up in the southeast. Mars is 4.6° to the lower right of the brilliant planet. The Red Planet is over 10° above the horizon. A binocular might be helpful to find Mars. It is in the same binocular field as Venus.
These planets have been in a footrace since late January, when Venus stopped moving westward compared to the stars. Mars overtook Venus on February 16 while the Morning Star picked up eastward speed. Venus passes Mars tomorrow and leaves it in its celestial dust.
During March, Venus moves nearly 30° eastward along the ecliptic, while Mars moves 22.5° eastward.
Along with Jupiter’s conjunction as noted earlier, Saturn and Mercury are in transition in the sun’s glare. Saturn is moving into the morning sky after its solar conjunction last month. This morning it rises nearly an hour before sunup. The planet is too dim to see during brighter twilight. Next week begin looking for it with a binocular to the lower left of Venus. In two weeks, it is easier to see when it is higher in the sky during mid-twilight.
Mercury is racing toward its superior conjunction early next month and its best evening appearance of the year. Today it is still on the morning side of the sun, rising more than 40 minutes before sunup.
Without any bright planets in the evening sky, a thin crescent moon graces the west-southwest after sunset. Look about one-third of the way up in the sky at 45 minutes after sunset. The crescent is only 12% illuminated.
Use a binocular or spotting scope to see the gentle illumination on the moon’s night portion from sunlight reflected from Earth’s oceans, clouds, and land – earthshine.
This can be photographed easily with a tripod-mounted camera and exposures ranging through several seconds.
June 24, 2022: The crescent moon approaches Venus in the eastern sky before sunrise. The five bright planets are aligned in order from the sun in a rare planet parade.Keep reading
June 23, 2022: The five bright morning planets parade across the morning sky in a rare pattern. Venus passes the Pleiades star cluster before daybreak.Keep reading
June 22, 2022: The thick crescent moon is near Mars in the east-southeast before sunrise. Spot the five bright planets in order from the sun before daybreak.Keep reading