2022, April 10:  Morning Planet Pirouette, Crabby Moon


April 10, 2022:  Four bright planets, Venus, Mars, and Saturn, are in the east-southeastern sky before sunrise.  The moon is in front of the dim stars of Cancer during the early evening.

Photo Caption – 2022, April 10: Venus, Mars, and Saturn are in the east-southeast during morning twilight.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:18 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:26 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Morning Sky


The planetary dance continues in the morning sky.  Brilliant Venus is about 10° up in the east-southeast at 45 minutes before sunup.  The planet rises a few minutes before the beginning of morning twilight and 102 minutes before daybreak.

Venus steps eastward along the ecliptic at about one degree each day.  In comparison, Mars, 8.8° to the upper right of Venus, moves about 0.7° eastward compared to the background stars.  The gap from Venus to Mars continues to open each morning.

Chart Caption – 2022, April 10: Through a binocular, Mars and Saturn are visible with distant stars in Capricornus.

Saturn rises 128 minutes before sunup and about 10 minutes before Mars.  The Ringed Wonder plods eastward slowly, moving 1° about every ten days.  At this slow speed, Saturn takes nearly 30 years to traverse one lap on the ecliptic and one orbit around the sun.

By month’s end, Saturn rises 45 minutes earlier compared to its rising time interval this morning, while Mars’ rising time interval increases only 10 minutes.  From this, a large gap, nearly 18°, grows between Mars and Saturn in the sky.

Saturn, generally, follows the westward march of the constellations.  As Earth revolves around the sun, the distant bright stars along the solar system’s plane emerge from bright morning twilight and appear in the eastern sky. 

Earth’s revolution makes the distant stars rise about four minutes earlier each day.  Each week, they rise nearly 30 minutes earlier.  Within a few months, these bright stars rise around midnight, and they are in the south during morning twilight then farther toward the western horizon.  Eventually, they rise at sunset and appear higher in the sky each evening as the daily four minutes further accumulates. 

As the annual parade continues, the stars are in the south as night falls. Then they disappear into the bright evening twilight.  Because of its slow orbital speed, Saturn follows this progression.  During these annual treks, Saturn retrogrades – moves westward compared to the starry background.  This illusion begins June 5th and ends October 22nd.  This year, the planet seems to move about 7° westward along the ecliptic.

At the beginning of each apparition, Saturn starts its observing period about 12° farther eastward along the ecliptic.

Comparing the rising time intervals of Venus and Mars, the gap grows.  This morning the rising time difference is only 15 minutes.  By month’s end, the gap is nearly 40 minutes.  In the sky, the separation is 15.9°.

Jupiter is slowly moving into the morning sky.  This morning the Jovian Giant rises 55 minutes before the sun.  At month’s end it rises 100 minutes before sunup, the same time interval as Venus, when a proximate conjunction occurs.

This morning at 30 minutes before sunrise, Jupiter is about 4° above the horizon and 18.3° to the lower left of Venus.

Watch the changing positions of the morning planet dancers and the slow emergence of Jupiter from bright twilight.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2022, April 10: The gibbous moon is in front of Cancer’s dim stars, between Pollux and Regulus.

Mercury is leaving bright twilight to appear in the western evening sky as night falls.  The planet sets 45 minutes after sunset.  Fifteen minutes earlier, it is only 2° above the west-northwest horizon.

As night falls look for the gibbous moon, high in the south-southeastern sky.  It is in front of the dim stars of Cancer, between Pollux and Regulus.

Chart Caption – 2022, April 10: Through a binocular, the gibbous moon appears with the Beehive star cluster.

The lunar orb is 4.9° to the upper left of the Beehive star cluster.  With the bright moon, this is not the night to look closely at the cluster, but note its place in the star field with Asellus Borealis and Asellus Australis as well as the wider starfield. 

In about 10 days when the moon is out of the early evening sky, aim your binocular midway between Pollux and Regulus.  You’ll spot the cluster and the nearby stars.



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