May 11, 2022: Four bright morning planet gems – Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn – are stretched out along the eastern horizon. During the evening hours, Mercury recedes into bright twilight.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:35 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:00 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
A planet necklace with four bright planet gems – Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn – stretches across the eastern sky before sunrise.
Brilliant Venus is the brightest planet and the brightest star this morning. Find it over 8° up in the east during morning twilight.
Bright Jupiter is 9.9° to the upper right of Venus. The Jovian Giant moves slower than eastward-moving Venus. About two weeks after their close (proximate) conjunction, the gap between them opens about one degree each day.
Extend your arm and look at the finger nail on your pointer finger. At arm’s length, the nail’s width is about one degree.
Mars, 10.2° to the upper right of Jupiter and over 16° above the east-southeast horizon, is marching eastward toward that giant planet. Mars overtakes and passes Jupiter on May 29.
Saturn is the highest in the sky and farthest from Venus. The Ringed Wonder is over 20° up in the southeast and 45.2° from the Morning star.
Venus continues to widen the overall necklace each morning.
This evening, we say “Goodbye” to Mercury as it is just above the west-northwest horizon, dim, and a challenge to see. Use a binocular to find it. It is moving toward inferior conjunction, between Earth and the sun, and its foray into the morning sky next month with the four other bright planets.
The bright gibbous moon, 80% illuminated and four evenings before its total lunar eclipse, is in the south-southeast – in front of the stars of Virgo and to the lower left of Leo, 10.1° to the lower left of Denebola – the Lion’s tail.
Use a binocular to find the star Zavijava – meaning “the corner of the barking dog” – 3.2° to the lower right of the lunar orb. Once the star is located, move the binocular slightly so that the glaringly bright moon is outside the field of view.
Look at the ground around you. The moon casts considerable light across the terrestrial landscape, enough to create shadows.
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