May 25, 2022: The moon bunches with Jupiter and Mars this morning, making the closest gathering of this celestial trio until 2026. NASA’s Martian rover Perseverance captured a solar eclipse by the moon Phobos on April 2.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:22 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:14 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The moon bunches with Jupiter and Mars in the east-southeast before sunrise. The triplet tightly fits into a binocular field. This is the closest gathering of the celestial trio until November 2, 2026. At that gathering, the three objects fit within a circle 6.1° across.
The moon passes the planets each month. Two bright planets appearing near each other is a fleeting event. Coupling that with the moon is infrequent, especially with the triplet fitting into a single binocular field.
Mars passes Jupiter again on August 14, 2024, but when the moon passes on July 30, the trio fits into a circle 8.1° across, too large to fit into most binoculars. When the moon passes again on August 27, 2024, the view is pretty in the morning sky before sunrise, although they fit in a circle 8.6° in diameter.
This morning, look for the crescent moon, 23% illuminated, about 14° above the east-southeast horizon. Bright Jupiter is 5.4° to the crescent’s upper right. Mars is 2.4° to the right of the Jovian Giant.
Mars, marching eastward, is overtaking Jupiter. The Red Planet passes Jupiter in four mornings.
While attempting to fit the lunar crescent, Jupiter, and Mars into a single binocular field of view, notice earthshine on the moon’s night portion. There is a gentle glow from sunlight reflected from Earth’s oceans, clouds, and land.
Earthshine can be photographed with a tripod-mounted camera. Exposures up to several seconds catch the effect.
Morning Star Venus is 24.6° to the lower left of Jupiter, while Saturn is 36.9° to the upper right of the solar system’s largest planet. Venus steps quickly eastward and widens the gap to Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn each morning.
Saturn is nearly 30° above the south-southeast horizon.
Martian Solar Eclipse
On April 2, NASA’s Perseverance Martian rover, captured a solar eclipse made by the irregularly-shaped moon Phobos. The moon is too small to completely cover the sun.
The rover’s Mastcam-Z captured the 40-second eclipse. Other solar eclipses have been captured dating back to 2004. Perseverance’s video is the best.
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