April 24, 2022: The thick crescent moon approaches the four morning planets – Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Saturn – in the east-southeast before sunrise. Mercury nears the Pleiades star cluster after sunset.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:57 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:42 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The waning crescent moon – 40% illuminated – joins the planet necklace this morning in the east-southeast before sunrise. The lunar orb is 9.0° to the lower right of Saturn.
In this jeweled-morning sky, Mars is 13.1° to the lower left of the Ringed Wonder.
The brightest gem is this morning’s display is brilliant Venus, nearly 9° up in the east-southeast, 13.6° to the lower left of Mars and over 34° to the lower left of the lunar crescent.
Venus is stepping toward Jupiter, over 6° above the eastern horizon and 5.8° to the lower left of Earth’s Twin Planet.
The four planets, from Jupiter to Saturn, span 34.7°.
Venus and Jupiter easily fit into a binocular’s field of view. If held steadily, the binocular may show up to four of Jupiter’s largest satellites.
Venus continues to close on Jupiter for their close (proximate) conjunction in less than a week when Venus passes within 0.5° of the Jovian Giant.
Mars follows Venus at a slower eastward rate, catching Jupiter on May 29.
Tomorrow morning, the moon is farther eastward, to the lower left of Saturn and lower right of Mars.
Mercury is putting on its best evening exhibition of the year for northern hemisphere observers. Forty-five minutes after sunset, it is over 10° above the west-northwest horizon. The Pleiades star cluster is 5.9° to the upper left of the speedy planet.
Mercury enters the same binocular field with the star cluster. Each evening the gap closes between the planet and the stellar bunch.
Note the bright star Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster to the upper left of the planet.
Mercury passes 1.3° to the lower left of the stars on April 29. The moon joins the scene on May 2.
Continue to watch Mercury close in on the cluster.
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