2022, April 9: Marching Mars, Evening Lunar Toss

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April 9, 2022: Venus, Mars, and Saturn are the morning planets.  Mars marches away from Saturn.  The evening moon is near Pollux and the Gemini Twins.

Chart Caption – 2022, April 9: Venus, Mars, and Saturn are in the east-southeastern sky during morning twilight.

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:22 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:24 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Morning Sky

Mars marches away from Saturn in the east-southeastern sky before sunrise.  The Red Planet is 2.9° to the lower left of the Ringed Wonder.

Mars passed Saturn in a close conjunction that fit into a telescopic eyepiece on April 4.  The Red Planet revolves around the sun faster than Saturn.  Mars catches and passes Saturn again on April 10, 2024.

Find Mars and Saturn by first locating brilliant Venus about 10° up in the east-southeast at 45 minutes before sunup.  Mars is 8.5° to the upper right of Venus.  Venus is too far away from Mars for both of them to fit into the same binocular field.

Chart Caption – 2022, April 9: Through a binocular find Mars and Saturn with background stars.

Mars and Saturn fit into the same field of view along with two stars in Capricornus, Deneb Algedi and Nashira.  Note the changing places of Mars and Saturn each morning compared to those distant background stars.

Venus is quickly stepping toward Jupiter.  The Jovian Giant rises 53 minutes before sunrise.  About 20 minutes later, it is about 4° above the eastern horizon, 19.2° to the lower left of Venus.

Venus reaches Jupiter on April 30, passing 0.5° to the lower right of the Jovian Giant in a proximate conjunction.  These articles give this name to Venus – Jupiter conjunctions that have gaps of 0.5° or less.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2022, April 9: The slightly gibbous moon is to the upper left of Pollux as night falls.

Elusive Mercury is beginning its best evening appearance of the year for sky watchers in the northern hemisphere.  After it passed behind the sun at its superior conjunction a week ago, the planet is quickly entering the evening sky, setting later each evening.  This evening it sets 39 minutes after sunset.  While it is bright, the planet is a degree or so above the west-northwest at 30 minutes after sunset, not yet close to its prime spot.  Anxious Mercury chasers can start finding it in a few evenings with a binocular at this time interval.

The slightly gibbous moon, 58% illuminated, is over 70° above the south-southwest horizon.  This evening the lunar orb is 5.5° to the upper left of Pollux and 9.7° to the upper left of Castor.

The Gemini Twins can be visualized as two human stick figures with an arm around the other’s shoulders, standing above the southwest horizon during spring evenings.  The named stars dot the character’s heads.  This evening it appears that Pollux is tossing the moon like a basketball.

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