June 3, 2022: The four morning bright planets – Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – are in the eastern sky. Venus noticeably changes its place along the horizon. The evening moon is with the Beehive star cluster.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:17 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:21 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Four bright morning planets are scattered along the ecliptic in the eastern sky before sunrise. Brilliant Venus is about 7° above the east horizon an hour before sunrise.
Sky watchers diligently watching the planets dance in the morning sky, recently, likely noticed the changing place of Venus along the horizon.
At the beginning of April, the planet rose at azimuth, 106°, 16° south of the east cardinal direction; that’s east-southeast. By May 1, Venus appeared on the horizon at azimuth 92°.
By the beginning of this month, Venus appeared in the sky at azimuth 74°, east-northeast. During the two months Venus’ rising point has shifted 32°. The sun’s point has shifted only 24° during the same interval.
Unless there is a clear, unobstructed horizon, few sky watchers see Venus at the horizon. During the twilight northern hemisphere sky watchers see the planet higher and somewhat southward from its rising point. The observation points during twilight experienced the same northern shift.
This morning bright Jupiter is 32.7° to the upper right of Venus. Mars is 2.9° to the lower left of the Jovian Giant, continuing its eastward march.
Saturn is nearly 30° up in the south-southeast and 71.5° to the upper right of Venus. This gap widens as Venus continues to step eastward faster than the other three planets in the sky this morning.
Mercury is slowly emerging from bright morning twilight. It rises 36 minutes before the sun. In two weeks, it rises over an hour before the sun and joins the morning planet show, along with Uranus, Neptune, and the ninth classic planet Pluto.
An hour after sundown, the lunar crescent, 18% illuminated, is nearly 30° up in the west and among the dim stars of Cancer. It is to the upper left of the Gemini Twins, 10.0° from Pollux.
Look at the moon through a binocular and place the crescent toward the right side of the field of view. The Beehive star cluster is 5.1° to the left of the crescent.
In recent months, the moon phase was larger than this evening’s phase when the moon passed the cluster. The brighter phases washed out the stellar bunch’s dimmer stars.
At this season the cluster is lower in the sky, and at this hour, twilight has not yet reached its midpoint. As the sky darkens, the Beehive is lower in the sky, becoming more difficult to see. Take several views of the scene as the evening progresses, before the cluster is too low for favorable viewing, yet dark enough to see it in the binocular.
July 29, 2022: Jupiter’s retrograde begins today. The Southern Delta Aquariid meteor shower peaks after midnight. Four morning planets parade across the sky. Catch a glimpse of Mercury after sunset.Keep reading
July 28, 2022: The four morning planets – Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – are visible before daybreak. Look eastward for a collection of bright stars with Venus and Mars. Saturn peeks above the horizon during evening twilight.Keep reading