2022, April 17: Five Planets, Pinched Moon

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April 17, 2022: The five bright planets – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – are visible during a twenty-four-hour interval.  The moon is near one of the Scorpion’s pincers.

Chart Caption – 2022, April 17: The bright moon is between Spica and Zubenelgenubi.

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:07 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:34 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Morning Sky

The bright moon is in the west-southwest during the predawn hours.  It is 11.7° to the upper left of Spica and 9.8° to the lower right of Zubenelgenubi – one of the classic pincers of Scorpius.

Tonight, the moon covers Zubenelgenubi for observers in Central and Western Africa, and from the Atlantic Ocean.

Chart Caption – 2022, April 17: Four bright planets are in the eastern sky before sunrise.

Brilliant Venus is “that bright star” in the east-southeast during morning twilight.  At forty-five minutes before sunrise, it is over 9° above the horizon.  It is part of a planetary grouping in the morning sky 

The four bright morning planets span 31.7° from Jupiter to Saturn.

Jupiter, nearly 4° above the eastern horizon, is beginning its morning appearance, 12.0° to the lower left of Venus.  The Jovian Giant is low in the sky, but it can be found because of its brightness.  Find an unobstructed horizon.

Venus is closing in on Jupiter for a close, proximate, conjunction on April 30.  Note the gap between the planets each morning.

Mars, marching eastward slower than Venus, is 11.1° to the upper right of the Morning Star.  Saturn is 8.3° to the upper right of the Red Planet.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2022, April 17: Mercury is low in the west-northwest after sundown.

At forty-five minutes after sunset, Mercury is over 6° above the west-northwest horizon.  It is bright enough to be seen without a binocular’s optical assist.  One may be needed to initially find the speedy planet.

During spring evenings, the plane of the solar system is favorably-angled so that the inner planets stand high above the western horizon if they are east of the sun, setting after the sun.

Mercury sets 83 minutes after sundown, five minutes later than yesterday’s setting interval.

Mercury passes the Pleiades star cluster on April 29.  A planet passing this star cluster is a pretty sight and worth noting through a binocular.

Chart Caption – 2022, April 17: Three hours after sunset, the bright moon is near Zubenelgenubi, the southern pincer of Scorpius.

About three hours after sunset, the moon, 97% illuminated, is nearly 15° up in the southeast and 1.7° to the lower left of Zubenelgenubi.  Earlier this evening, the moon covered the star for sky watchers in Africa and from the Atlantic Ocean.

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