2022, May 25: Rare Jupiter, Mars, Moon Grouping, Martian Solar Eclipse

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.

2022, May 25: A binocular view of Jupiter, Mars, and the lunar crescent.
Chart Caption – 2022, May 25: A binocular view of Jupiter, Mars, and the lunar crescent.

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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.

Morning Sky

SUMMARY OF PLANETS IN 2022 MORNING SKY

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.

Crescent moon and Venus
Photo Caption – Venus and the crescent moon. Notice the “earthshine” on the night portion of the moon.

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.

2021, December 6: The moon with earthshine.
Photo Caption – 2021, December 6: The moon with earthshine.

Earthshine can be photographed with a tripod-mounted camera.  Exposures up to several seconds catch the effect.

2022, May 25: The four morning planets and the moon are in the eastern sky before sunrise.
Chart Caption – 2022, May 25: The four morning planets and the moon are in the eastern sky before sunrise.

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

Video Caption – The Martian moon Phobos is seen eclipsing the sun.

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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