March 9, 2022: Before sunrise, Venus continues to close the gap to Mars before their close approach. As night falls, the moon is in front of Taurus.
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by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:13 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:51 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Venus continues to step eastward faster than Mars’ eastward march. Venus angles toward the ecliptic, closing a gap to the Red Planet. A close approach is nearing in a week, when the pair is 3.9° apart. It’s not a conjunction, as the two planets do not share the same ecliptic longitude.
At forty-five minutes before sunup, Venus is “that bright star” over 14° above the southeast horizon. Dimmer Mars is 4.2° to the lower right of Venus and over 10° above the horizon.
Use a binocular to initially locate Mars. Both planets easily fit into a binocular’s field of view.
Saturn is beginning to appear in the morning sky, but it is just above the east-southeast horizon at this hour. The Ringed Wonder rises 66 minutes before the sun.
After its solar conjunction a few days ago, Jupiter is west of the sun, rising before sunup. It follows Saturn into the sky by over an hour and a few minutes before the sun appears at the horizon. It’ll be a few weeks before we easily see Jupiter.
Mercury is west of the sun in the central star’s bright glare, rising 36 minutes before the sunrise. It is moving toward superior conjunction with the sun and into the evening sky.
This evening the moon, 46% illuminated, is over two-thirds of the way up in the southwest as night falls. It is above the “V” of Taurus – Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster – and below Elnath and Zeta Tauri, the horns of the Bull.
The lunar orb is 8.3° to the upper right of Aldebaran and 9.1° to the lower right of Elnath.
The moon reaches its First Quarter phase tomorrow morning at 4:45 a.m. CST. It is below the horizon for most of the western hemisphere at that hour.
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