2022, May 6: Morning Planet Gems, Evening Moon

May 6, 2022: The four bright morning planets – Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn, shining like gems on a necklace, stretch across the eastern sky.  The evening moon is near Pollux while Mercury is quickly departing the western sky after sundown.

2022, May 6: Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn stretch across the morning sky.
Chart Caption – 2022, May 6: Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn stretch across the morning sky.

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:41 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:55 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Morning Sky

SUMMARY OF PLANETS IN 2022 MORNING SKY

The gems on the ends of the morning planet necklace continue to expand as Mars closes in on Jupiter for their conjunction at month’s end. Brilliant Venus, over 8° above the eastern horizon is 5.2° to the lower left of bright Jupiter in the eastern sky before sunrise. 

Venus has opened a gap to Saturn, over 20° up in the southeast, that is nearly 40°.  Mars, about the same brightness as Saturn, is between the Ringed Wonder and Jupiter, 13.0° to the upper right of the Jovian Giant.

2022, May 6: Venus and Jupiter are in the same binocular field of view.
Chart Caption – 2022, May 6: Venus and Jupiter are in the same binocular field of view.

Venus and Jupiter are in the same binocular field of view.  In the western hemisphere, three of Jupiter’s largest moons are visible.  Depending on the quality of the binocular’s optics and your ability to hold them steady, Callisto and Ganymede might be visible on the side of Jupiter toward Venus.  A small telescope or spotting scope reveals Europa on the west side of the planet. Io is behind the planet at this time.

Evening Sky

2022, May 6: The moon appears to the lower left of Pollux, a Gemini Twin.
Chart Caption – 2022, May 6: The moon appears to the lower left of Pollux, a Gemini Twin.

The waxing crescent moon, 31% illuminated is over halfway up in the western sky as night falls, 2.6° to the lower right of Gemini Twin Pollux.  As the sky darkens further and twilight fades, notice that this moon is casting shadows as it illuminates the landscape around you.

2022, May 6: Mercury is low in the west-northwest as night falls.
Chart Caption – 2022, May 6: Mercury is low in the west-northwest as night falls.

Along with several bright stars that shine prominently in the south during winter, Mercury is quickly departing the west-northwestern sky, fading in brightness.  At forty-five minutes after sunset, find it over 8° above the horizon and 9.6° to the lower right of the star Aldebaran.  You may find Mercury and the Pleiades star cluster in the same binocular field of view, although the star cluster is only about 6° above the horizon to the lower right of dimming Mercury.

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