2022, April 26: Spectacular Morning Crescent, Evening Mercury

April 26, 2022: A spectacular lunar crescent is visible with the four morning planets, Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Saturn.  Mercury is seen in the west-northwest after sundown.

2022, April 26: A spectacular lunar crescent joins the four morning planets before sunrise.
Chart Caption – 2022, April 26: A spectacular lunar crescent joins the four morning planets before sunrise.

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:54 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:44 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Morning Sky

SUMMARY OF PLANETS IN 2022 MORNING SKY

A spectacular morning crescent is in the east-southeast before sunrise.  At 45 minutes before sunrise, the crescent is only 20% illuminated and over 7° above the horizon.

Crescent moon, December 11, 2020
Photo Caption – 2020, December 11: About an hour before sunrise, the crescent moon that is 14% illuminated is in the southeastern sky.

Look for earthshine on the night portion of the moon. This effect is from sunlight reflecting from Earth’s oceans, clouds and land.  From the moon, Earth’s phase is nearly full.  Bright earthshine gently illuminates the moon’s mountains, plains, and craters.

Crescent Moon, November 13, 2020
Photo Caption – 2020, November 13: The crescent moon that is 4% illuminated is in the eastern sky before sunrise. Notice the earthshine on the night portion of the moon.

Photographers can capture earthshine with a tripod mounted camera and exposures up to a few seconds, depending on the camera’s properties.  Take several exposures in a range of times to capture the best view.

Brilliant Venus and bright Jupiter are to the upper left of the lunar crescent.  The gap between Venus and Jupiter is 3.8°.

Venus is quickly stepping eastward toward slower-moving Jupiter.  Each morning the gap between them closes. Earth’s Twin passes the Jovian Giant in four mornings when Venus passes about 0.5° from Jupiter, a proximate conjunction.

2022, April 26: Venus and Jupiter appear in the same binocular field of view.
Chart Caption – 2022, April 26: Venus and Jupiter appear in the same binocular field of view.

Venus and Jupiter easily fit into a binocular’s field of view.  Tomorrow morning the lunar crescent fits into the same field of view with the planets, although the lunar orb is very low in the sky.

Mars is 14.4° to the upper right of Venus and 6.8° to the upper right of the lunar crescent.  Saturn, slightly brighter than Mars, is 14.5° to the upper right of the Red Planet.

The four planets, from Jupiter to Saturn, span 33.0° along the plane of the solar system.  The Jovian Giant and the Ringed wonder move slowly eastward.  The gap between them opens little-by-little each morning.

Evening Sky

2022, April 26: Mercury is low in the west-northwest after sunset below the Pleiades star cluster.
Chart Caption – 2022, April 26: Mercury is low in the west-northwest after sunset below the Pleiades star cluster.

After sundown, Mercury is in the west-northwest, approaching the Pleiades star cluster. At forty-five minutes after sunset, the speedy planet is over 10° above the horizon and 3.6° below the star cluster.

2022, April 26: Mercury and the Pleiades star cluster fit into the same binocular field of view.
Chart Caption – 2022, April 26: Mercury and the Pleiades star cluster fit into the same binocular field of view.

Use a binocular to see the star cluster with the planet.

Note that the Hyades star cluster and the star Aldebaran are to the upper left of Mercury.

Watch the planet close in and pass the Pleiades during the next few evenings.

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