May 26, 2022: The crescent moon nears Morning Star Venus. Mars closes in on Jupiter before their conjunction in three mornings. Saturn is nearby.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:22 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:15 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Planet activity continues in the eastern sky before sunup. The views are specially interesting as the lunar crescent hops eastward near the planets.
This morning, the crescent moon, 15% illuminated, is about 10° up in the east, with Morning Star Venus 8.0° to its lower left. The separation is too wide to fit into a binocular’s field of view for the eastern Americas.
By the time the morning planet parade is visible from USA’s west coast, the moon slides into the same binocular field with the Morning Star.
Bright Jupiter, nearly 20° up in the east-southeast, is 24.6° to the upper right of Venus. Mars is closing in on Jupiter for their conjunction in three mornings. Mars, much dimmer than Jupiter, is 1.8° to the right of the Jovian Giant.
In space, Mars is nearly 140 million miles away. Jupiter is nearly four times farther away, yet the solar system’s largest planet is the second brightest “star” in the sky this morning.
Jupiter’s highly reflective clouds and its large size, make the planet very bright, even though it receives considerably less sunlight than Mars.
The three planets are moving away from slow-moving Saturn. The Ringed Wonder is 37.5° to the upper right of Jupiter. The four morning planets, from Venus to Saturn, span 62.2°.
Venus passed Jupiter about a month ago and has been quickly stepping eastward, widening the overall planet gap.
Tomorrow morning the thin crescent moon and Venus are only 3.6°, a spectacular view. Find a clear horizon toward the east, free from obstacles that block the view.
Mars is only 1.3° from Jupiter in the southeastern sky.
Mercury is slowly moving into the morning sky. This morning it rises only nine minutes before the sun. Later next month, it joins the four bright planets, as well as dimmer Uranus and Neptune and the ninth classic planet Pluto.
At this season, three bright stars – Vega, Altair, and Deneb – are in the eastern sky at the end of evening twilight, about two hours after sunset.
This stellar triplet belongs to their own constellations – Lyra, Aquila, and Cygnus. Together we call them the Summer Triangle.
On the first day of summer at the mid-northern latitudes the triangle is in the eastern sky as night falls. During late May, Vega and Deneb are easy to locate, but Altair is just above the horizon.
Look for these stars earlier in the evening and higher in the sky as the summer season arrives.
October 27, 2022: Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars are hung across the sky around midnight. After sundown, the crescent moon is near Antares, the brightest star in Scorpius.Keep reading
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