May 2, 2022: Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn are strung across the eastern sky like gems on a necklace before sunup. Mercury, the crescent moon, and the Pleiades star cluster are in the western sky after sundown.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:46 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:50 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Brilliant Venus is near bright Jupiter in the eastern sky before sunup. This pairing continues to be a wonderful view of two of the brightest “stars” in the sky.
Two days after their proximate conjunction, Venus is 1.4° to the lower left of Jupiter and in the same binocular field with the Jovian Giant. Jupiter’s largest and brightest moons might be seen through the binocular, if held steadily.
Through a small telescope, Venus shows a morning gibbous phase that is nearly 70% illuminated.
Venus quickly steps eastward and away from Jupiter during the next several mornings. The planet’s quick speed widely opens the gap to Saturn. This morning Saturn is 35.3° to the upper right of Venus. This span opens about one degree each day.
While Venus steps away from Jupiter, Mars approaches the Jovian Giant, leading up to a conjunction at month’s end. This morning, Mars, over 15° above the east-southeast horizon, is 15.2° to the upper right of Jupiter.
Slower-moving Saturn, over 20° above the southeast horizon, is 18.7° to the upper right of Mars. The Ringed Wonder is in front of the stars of Capricornus.
Tomorrow the Venus – Jupiter gap grows, while the Jupiter – Mars gap shrinks.
The crescent moon is near Mercury and the Pleiades star cluster in the west-northwest as night falls.
The crescent moon, 4% illuminated, is over 13° above the horizon, 4.6° to the upper left of Mercury and 7.2° to the right of the star Aldebaran.
Look for earthshine – reflected sunlight from Earth’s oceans, clouds, and land – on the night portion of the moon. This can be photographed with a tripod-mounted camera and exposures that range to a few seconds. Earthshine is displayed for the next few evenings.
Mercury is 2.6° to the upper left of the Pleiades star cluster. The speedy planet is retreating into bright twilight, setting earlier each evening compared to sunset.
The moon and Mercury easily fit into a binocular field of view and Mercury and the Pleiades star cluster fit into a field as well. For those with a “wide field” binocular, the crescent moon, Mercury and the star cluster may fit into the same field of view. While looking westward, note the Hyades star cluster along with Aldebaran.
Tomorrow evening the moon is above the “V” of Taurus and near the Bull’s horns, Elnath and Zeta Tauri.
- 2023, October 16: Venus in Starry ConjunctionOctober 16, 2023: Venus passes a star in Leo before sunrise. A crescent moon is low in the western sky during evening twilight.
- 2023, October 16-22: Celestial Events for the WeekOctober 16-22, 2023: The moon returns to the evening sky. Venus steps eastward in front of Leo, and a meteor shower is visible.
- 2023, October 15: Three Bright PlanetsOctober 15, 2023: Brilliant Venus and Jupiter are visible before sunrise. Saturn is above the southeast horizon after sundown.
- 2023, October 14: Solar Eclipse, Morning PlanetsOctober 14, 2023: A solar eclipse is visible across the western hemisphere. Brilliant Venus and Jupiter are visible before sunrise.
- 2023, October 13: Moon’s Last Glimpse, Bright Morning PlanetsOctober 13, 2023: Before tomorrow’s eclipse, see a razor-thin moon before sunrise. Venus and Jupiter shine brightly during morning twilight.