April 11, 2022: Jupiter is slowly entering the morning sky, making four bright planets in the eastern sky before sunrise. During the evening, the moon appears near the Sickle of Leo.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:17 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:27 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Three bright planets, Venus, Mars, and Saturn, are in the east-southeast before sunrise. Brilliant Venus has been shining brightly in the eastern sky for about three months. The Morning Star had two conjunctions with Mars, a minimum separation with the Red Planet, and a conjunction with Saturn.
Venus is stepping quickly toward Jupiter. The Jovian Giant rises 57 minutes before sunrise. It is very low in the eastern sky at 45 minutes before sunrise. Venus is 17.4° to the upper right of Jupiter.
Venus is stepping toward Jupiter and a proximate conjunction, about 0.5° separation at month’s end.
Jupiter is visible near the horizon at this hour because of its brightness. Use a binocular to initially find it. Wait a few mornings and the planet is higher and easier to see, joining the other three morning planets.
Find brilliant Venus about 10° up in the east-southeast at 45 minutes before sunup. The planet rises three minutes before the beginning of morning twilight and 102 minutes before daybreak.
Mars and Saturn are farther westward. Mars is 9.1° to the upper right of Venus. These two planets will nearly fit across your fist – from thumb knuckle to pinky knuckle – when held at arm’s length.
Saturn, slightly brighter than Mars, is 4.3° to the upper right of the Red Planet. Mars is marching away from the slower-moving Ringed Wonder after their conjunction nearly a week ago.
Mars and Saturn fit within a binocular field with two brighter stars – Deneb Algedi and Nashira – in Capricornus.
Tomorrow Mars moves into Aquarius.
Mercury is leaving bright twilight to appear in the western evening sky as the sky darkens. The planet sets 51 minutes after sunset. At 30 minutes after sundown, the planet is about 3° up in the west-northwest.
Farther eastward, the bright gibbous moon is about two-thirds of the way up in the southeast, near the “Sickle of Leo.” The pattern is a backwards question mark shape that represents the head of Leo. Regulus is at the bottom of the punctuation mark.
A sickle is a farmer’s implement to cut grain. It has a curved blade attached to a handle. At tonight’s position the moon looks like it’s about to be sliced.
Tomorrow evening the moon is in the middle of the Lion.
December 26, 2022: The five bright planet display continues after sunset. The moon is near Saturn. Mars passes Aldebaran.Keep reading
December 24, 2022: After sundown, the crescent moon joins the rare five-planet display with Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars.Keep reading