May 13, 2022: The four morning planets are visible in the eastern sky before sunrise. As night falls, the waxing gibbous moon is near Spica. Corvus the Raven is nearby.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:33 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:02 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The morning planet quartet stretches along the eastern horizon before sunrise. Brilliant Venus is low in the eastern sky. It is stepping away from Jupiter, 11.9° to its upper right.
Slower-moving Jupiter is 9.1° to the lower left of Mars. The Red Planet is overtaking the Jovian Giant leading up to their conjunction at month’s end.
The Mars – Saturn gap opens farther each morning. Today, Saturn, nearly 25° up in the southeast, is 26.5° to the upper right of Mars. The Venus – Saturn gap is 47.4°.
Saturn is a spectacular sight through a telescope. As the weather warms, local astronomy clubs hold telescope nights for the public. Locate a local group or convince your neighborhood sky watcher to give you a view of the planet.
It becomes visible during the evening hours later in the summer.
Through a telescope at about 100-power of magnification, the ring is easily visible. Look carefully and a gap in the rings – known as the Cassini division – might be visible.
A cloud stripe or two might be seen, depending on the clarity of the sky.
Eight of its moons are within the range of a sky watcher’s telescope. Titan, one of the largest moons in the solar system, is spotted easily.
Seeing Saturn through a telescope is one of life’s meaningful events for casual telescope users and even veteran sky watchers pause and marvel at its view through a telescopic eyepiece.
Take advantage of any opportunity during the warmer months to view the planets through a telescope.
The bright gibbous moon, approaching the Full phase and a total lunar eclipse in two evenings, is in the southeast as night falls. Notice that the lunar orb is 4.2° to the upper left of Spica – meaning “the ear of corn.”
The tiny constellation Corvus, the Raven, is to the lower right of Spica. The bird is riding on a snake, Hydra, that stretches toward the southwest. Its head is between Procyon and Regulus.
From mythology, Apollo placed Corvus, a cup – known as Crater, and a snake in the sky. When the raven was tardy from fetching a cup of water for the Olympian, the raven returned with the snake and an excuse that the serpent attacked the bird. Apollo knew that the raven really feasted on the fruit of a nearby fig tree. In the sky, Hydra guards the cup from the raven. It is said that this is the reason that ravens do not carry water to their fledglings, according to the myth.
- 2023, October 22: Moon Approaches SaturnOctober 22, 2023: During evening hours, the gibbous moon nears Saturn in the southern sky. Venus and Jupiter are visible during morning twilight.
- 2023, October 21: Three Bright Planets, First Quarter MoonOctober 21, 2023: Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are easy to locate during nighttime hours. The First Quarter moon phase occurs this evening.
- 2023, October 20: Jupiter’s Double Shadows, Mercury at Superior ConjunctionOctober 20: After midnight, Jupiter’s moons’ shadows dance across the cloud tops. Mercury is at superior conjunction.
- 2023, October 19: Poured Moon, See Planet UranusOctober 19: Sagittarius seems to pour the moon into the sky this evening. Find Uranus with a binocular.
- 2023, October 18: Moon-Antares Conjunction, Bright PlanetsOctober 18, 2023: The moon is near Antares after sunset. Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the sky during the nighttime hours.