April 16, 2022: Four bright planets – Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn – are in the eastern sky before sunrise. The moon is visible in the morning and evening. Mercury is in the west-northwest after sunset.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:09 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:33 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The moon is at its Full phase at 1:55 a.m. CDT.
The bright moon is low in the west-southwest before sunrise. It is 4.8° to the upper right of Spica. This pairing of a Full moon with Spica is a clicking of the celestial gears that spring has arrived in the northern hemisphere, even though the calendar indicated this nearly a month ago.
Four bright morning planets are strung across the east-southeast horizon, like a celestial necklace. Brilliant Venus is over 9° above the horizon at forty-five minutes before sunrise. Mars is 10.8° to the upper right of Venus, while Saturn is 7.6° to the upper right of the Red Planet.
Jupiter is beginning its morning appearance, about 4° above the horizon and 13.1° to the lower left of Venus.
The planet motion in the eastern sky is quite dynamic in its changes each morning. Venus is stepping eastward over 1° each morning. Mars is marching eastward at about 0.7° every morning. Seemingly Saturn is moving eastward about 1° every 10 days, although it generally follows the westward parade of the stars. The gap between Venus and Saturn widens greatly each morning.
Jupiter is moving slowly, like Saturn. Venus quickly overtakes the Jovian Giant and passes it on April 30. The conjunction gap is about 0.5°, known as a proximate conjunction in these articles.
In less than two months, Mercury joins this celestial display for an infrequent display of the five bright planets at the same time.
Look each clear morning for the changing places of the planets in the sky.
Mercury is becoming easier to see each evening. At 45 minutes after sunset, it is over 5° up in the west-northwest. A binocular may be needed to initially find it. Once found, it is easily seen without the optical assistance. The star Hamal is 9.3° to the right of the speedy planet.
Mercury is moving toward a grouping with the Pleiades star cluster on April 29. The planet and the cluster make a splendid scene through a binocular. The crescent moon joins Mercury on May 2.
This evening the bright moon, about a day past its Full phase, is low in the east-southeast after sundown. The star Spica is 8.2° to the upper right of the lunar orb.
Take a walk this evening under the light of the bright moon. At first, you may need a flashlight to see your path. As your eyes adapt to the darkness and moonlight illuminates the landscape, you’ll find your way quite easily without the handheld light.
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