March 26, 2022: Three bright morning planets Venus, Mars, and Saturn bunch in the east-southeast before sunrise. The crescent moon is nearby.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:44 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:10 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
In two mornings, Venus, Saturn, and Mars cluster in a circle 5.3° across. This is a rare grouping of this planetary triplet that does not occur again until 2040. Venus passes Saturn the next morning (March 29) and Mars passes the Ringed Wonder about a week later.
The next Venus – Saturn conjunction occurs January 22, 2023, in the western sky after sunset. Mars passes Saturn again on April 10, 2024 in the east-southeast before sunrise.
This morning, crescent moon, 36% illuminated, and the morning planets Venus, Mars, and Saturn are moving closer together in the southeastern sky before sunrise.
Forty-five minutes before sunup, the crescent moon is nearly 15° up in the south-southeast. Brilliant Morning Star Venus is nearly 30° to the lower left of the lunar crescent and about 12° above the east-southeast horizon. Dimmer Mars is 4.9° to the lower right of Venus.
Saturn is the short-term target of Venus and Mars. The Ringed wonder, over 8° above the horizon, is 3.2° to the lower left of Venus and 6.3° to the lower left of Mars.
Through a binocular, the planet triplet easily fits into the same field of view. They appear together in a binocular until April 4, when Venus steps out of the same field with Mars and Saturn.
During the next few mornings, watch this planet dance continue in the eastern sky. Tomorrow, the moon is closer to the three planets and it joins them on the closest morning. The lunar crescent may fit into some binoculars with the planets.
- 2023, October 23: Venus at Greatest ElongationOctober 23, 2023: Venus moves to its farthest angular distance from the sun today, known as greatest elongation. During morning twilight, the Morning Star passes Leo’s Chertan.
- 2023, October 22: Moon Approaches SaturnOctober 22, 2023: During evening hours, the gibbous moon nears Saturn in the southern sky. Venus and Jupiter are visible during morning twilight.
- 2023, October 21: Three Bright Planets, First Quarter MoonOctober 21, 2023: Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are easy to locate during nighttime hours. The First Quarter moon phase occurs this evening.
- 2023, October 20: Jupiter’s Double Shadows, Mercury at Superior ConjunctionOctober 20: After midnight, Jupiter’s moons’ shadows dance across the cloud tops. Mercury is at superior conjunction.
- 2023, October 19: Poured Moon, See Planet UranusOctober 19: Sagittarius seems to pour the moon into the sky this evening. Find Uranus with a binocular.