2022, March 13: Morning Planet Trio, Crabby Moon

March 13, 2022: DST began overnight.  Venus, Mars and Saturn are in the southeast before sunrise.  The bright gibbous moon is in front of the very dim stars of Cancer after sundown.

2022, March 13: Venus, Mars, and Saturn are in the sky before sunrise.
Chart Caption – 2022, March 13: Venus, Mars, and Saturn are in the sky before sunrise.

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:06 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:55 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Clocks advanced one hour overnight for Daylight Saving Time.  For most of North America, the clock is an hour ahead of the sun.  Instead of seeing the sun south at noon, it is south at 1 p.m.  Daylight is approaching twelve hours in length.  Today, the sun is in the sky for 11 hours, 49 minutes at this latitude.

Morning Sky

SUMMARY OF PLANETS IN 2022 MORNING SKY

Brilliant Venus and Mars are moving eastward in western Capricornus.

The constellation is without bright stars. Dabih and Algedi are distant stars in the same region as the planets.

Venus is very bright and at 45 minutes before sunrise, it is about 14° up in the southeast.  It is 2.8° to the lower left of Dabih and 4.7° to the lower left of Algedi.

Mars is 3.9° to the lower right of the brilliant Morning Star.

Venus is stepping faster eastward compared to Mars. Venus is moving nearly 1° eastward along the plane of the solar system each day, while Mars is marching 0.8° daily.

In three mornings, Venus makes a close approach to Mars.  A week ago, Venus passed Mars for the third meeting in a triple conjunction series.  The brilliant planet has a high ecliptic latitude, although it is quickly moving back toward the solar system’s plane.  Venus moves slightly closer than it is today.  At the precision used in these articles, the planets are 3.9° apart, the same distance as today.  When fractions of degrees are considered, the planets move closer together in the sky than they appear this morning.

Saturn is moving into the morning sky.  At this hour, the Ringed Wonder is nearly 5° above the horizon and 14.1° to the lower left of Venus.

Venus and Mars are overtaking the much slower-moving Saturn.  Saturn is higher in the sky each morning. On March 29, Venus, Mars, and Saturn bunch together in a circle that is 5.3° across.  Such gatherings are rare and will not occur with this planet trio again until September 6, 2040.

Evening Sky

2022, March 13: The moon, in the constellation Cancer, is between Pollux and Regulus.
Chart Caption – 2022, March 13: The moon, in the constellation Cancer, is between Pollux and Regulus.

As night falls, the gibbous moon, 82% illuminated, is nearly two-thirds of the way up in the sky in the east-southeast.  The lunar orb is in front of the dim stars of Cancer that is without any bright stars.  The constellation’s brightest stars are in the fourth and fifth tier of stellar brightness that is perceived by the unaided eye.  They are not visible without a binocular’s optical assist from urban and suburban locations.

The Beehive star cluster is not far from the moon tonight, although the lunar glare tends to overwhelm the cluster’s feeble light.  Return to this spot in the stars in a week or two when the moon is out of the sky.  Point your binocular or telescope midway from Pollux to Castor to see the Beehive.

The region between Pollux and Regulus roughly mark the west and east limits of the star pattern.  The distance between the two stars in the sky is over 37°.

Tomorrow evening, the moon is closer to Leo, but still within the region of the sky we know as Cancer.

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