March 6, 2022: The third Venus-Mars conjunction in a triple conjunction series occurs this morning. The crescent moon is in the western evening sky.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:17 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:47 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Daylight continues to rapidly increase. Today, the sun is in the sky for 11 hours, 30 minutes. The vernal equinox occurs in two weeks. The equal daylight, equal nighttime intervals occur a few days before the equinox.
This morning brilliant Morning Star Venus passes Mars. Venus is “that bright star” shining from about 15° above the southeast horizon at 45 minutes before sunup. Mars is considerably dimmer and 4.4° to the lower right of Venus.
A binocular may be needed to initially see Mars. It is over 10° above the horizon.
This morning’s conjunction is the third in a series, known as a triple conjunction, that started July 12, 2021, in the western evening sky. Mars was slowly leaving the evening sky before its October 7, 2021, solar conjunction. Venus was in its evening apparition that ended January 8, 2022, when it raced into the morning sky.
On January 30, Venus stopped retrograding and slowly accelerated to the east along the ecliptic. Mars passed Venus for the second conjunction on February 4. During the year’s second month, Venus began to over take the Red Planet, passing Mars this morning – the third meeting in the series.
This morning Mars marched into Capricornus. Venus steps in tomorrow morning.
This planet dance is not finished. The planets continue to get closer during the next week, although Mars does not catch Venus.
As Venus moves eastward it gets closer to the plane of the solar system – the ecliptic. A close approach or minimum separation occurs on March 16, when the Venus – Mars gap is 3.9°.
Saturn slowly enters the morning sky for a rare grouping of the three planets and the moon on the morning of March 28, one day before the Venus – Saturn conjunction.
A close grouping of these three planets does not occur again until September 6, 2040.
While two Venus – Mars conjunctions follow in the interim, another triple conjunction series occurs during 2027-2028.
The crescent moon shines from the western sky after sunset. At forty-five minutes after sundown, the crescent moon, 19% illuminated, is nearly 40° up in the west-southwest. The star Hamal, the brightest in Aries, is 11.7° to the upper right of the crescent.
Notice the Pleiades star cluster over 20° above the moon.
Tomorrow evening the lunar crescent has a thicker phase and it is closer to the Pleiades.
January 2, 2023: Bright winter stars are in the western sky before sunrise. After sundown, four planets, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars, along with the moon are visible.Keep reading
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