March 8, 2022: Venus continues to close in on Mars before sunrise. In the evening the lunar crescent appears in a binocular field of view with the Pleiades star cluster, a wonderful sight!
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:14 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:49 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Venus is east of Mars along the plane of the solar system, but it is over 3° above the plane. Mars is nearly a degree below the ecliptic. During the next week, Venus moves closer to the plane and closer to Mars. On the morning of March 16, the planets are 3.9° apart.
This morning at 45 minutes before sunrise, brilliant Venus is over 14° up in the southeast at 45 minutes before sunrise. Mars is considerably dimmer and 4.3° to the lower right of Earth’s Twin planet. The Red Planet is over 10° above the horizon. Use a binocular to initially identify it. Both planets easily fit into a binocular’s field of view.
At forty-five minutes after sunset, step outside this evening with a binocular. The crescent moon is between the Pleiades star cluster and Aldebaran with the Hyades star cluster. The crescent is 37% illuminated.
Together, Aldebaran and the Hyades make a letter “V” forming the head of Taurus.
The moon and the Pleiades easily fit into the same field of view of the binocular.
A thin crescent with these star clusters is a wonderful sight, but not much proclaimed. You do not hear shouts or see fireworks on such occasions. This is an evening to shed indoor comforts to take a look into the sky to be inspired about the spectacles of nature.
In western hemisphere on April 4, a thinner moon appears in the same binocular field as the Pleiades, but the moon is beneath the star cluster. On May 2, the crescent moon returns, but it is too far away from the cluster to fit into a binocular field of view. On this evening, the crescent, Mercury, and the Pleiades are in a line.
How many stars can you count in the Pleiades and the Hyades through the binocular?
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