April 7, 2022: Venus, Mars, and Saturn are visible during morning twilight. Jupiter is slowly joining them in the eastern sky. The evening moon is under a celestial umbrella.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:23 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:23 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Daylight lengthens to thirteen hours today. Check the length of daylight at your location from your local source for sunrise and sunset times.
Three bright planets are easily visible in the east-southeast before sunrise. Brilliant Venus is easy to spot, nearly 10° above the horizon. Mars and Saturn are dimmer and farther westward (right) of the Morning Star.
Venus steps eastward faster than Mars, while the Red Planet moves faster than Saturn. What looks like a footrace is being won by Venus. Earth’s Twin planet leaves the others in its celestial dust.
Mars passed Saturn two mornings ago and it is opening a gap. The Red Planet is 7.6° to the right of Venus and 1.3° to the lower left of Saturn.
Mars and Saturn easily fit within a binocular’s field of view. Venus moved out of the field a few mornings ago.
Each morning note the positions of Mars and Saturn compared to the stars Nashira and Deneb Algedi through the binocular. Spot the relative locations as both planets move eastward (toward the left).
Jupiter continues its slow entry into the morning sky. Today it rises forty-nine minutes before the sun. About fifteen minutes later, it is over 3° above the east horizon. It is bright enough to be seen at this level of twilight with a clear horizon. Use the binocular to initially locate it.
Venus is stepping toward the Jovian Giant, leading up to a proximate conjunction, one that is 0.5° or closer, at month’s end. This morning the gap is 20.9°.
Speedy Mercury is jumping into the evening sky. It passed its superior conjunction with the sun only five days ago. It moved from the morning sky to the evening sky, now setting after sundown. It is beginning its best evening appearance of the year from mid-northern latitudes. This evening the planet sets only 26 minutes after the sun.
Step outside this evening as night falls. The waxing moon is in the western sky. The lunar crescent, 38% illuminated, is beneath a stellar umbrella made by Procyon, Pollux, Castor, and Capella. The four stars belong to Canis Minor, Gemini, and Auriga.
During the early evening, the moon is over two-thirds of the way up in the west-southwest. It is at Castor’s foot, 17.4° to the lower right of the Twin. Pollux is 4.5° to the left of Castor.
The Gemini Twins can be imagined as two human stick figures. The named stars are their heads. They seem to have their arms around the other’s shoulders. The torsos and legs extend downward toward the horizon. They seem to be standing upright above the western horizon.
Procyon, the brightest star in Canis Minor, is 22.8° to the lower left of Pollux and over halfway up in the south-southwest. Bright Sirius is over 25° to the lower right of Procyon.
Procyon means “before the dog.” It rises several minutes before Sirius, the Dog Star, the brightest in Canis Minor.
Canis Minor has two bright stars and could be perceived as a dog’s chew bone.
The fourth star in the celestial umbrella is Capella. It is the bright star over 20° to the upper right of the lunar crescent and nearly 30° to the lower right of Castor. It is the brightest star in Auriga. Note that many times we include Elnath, Taurus’ northern horn, with Auriga, although it belongs to Taurus on star maps.
Tomorrow evening, the moon is nearing its First Quarter phase and it appears higher in the sky, below Pollux and Castor.
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