June 8, 2022: Bright stars adorn the morning sky along with the string of four morning planets. The evening waxing moon nears the star Spica.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:16 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:24 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Several bright stars dot the morning sky along with the morning planets.
Bright Capella – meaning “the little she-goat” – is low in the north-northeast, one hour before sunup. The star is visible low in the northwest after sunset and returns here before sunrise.
The star is 46° north of the celestial equator – the extension of Earth’s equator into the sky. From that latitude on Earth, the star can be seen at the zenith – straight up and overhead. Theoretically, the star can be seen on the northern horizon as well, making it circumpolar – never setting – from these locations and farther northward.
Capella is the third brightest star in the northern half of the sky, after Arcturus and Vega, and the fourth brightest seen from northern latitudes, when Sirius is added. At this hour, Arcturus is low in the west-northwest and Vega is high in the west.
Fomalhaut – meaning “the mouth of the southern fish” – is low in the southeast. It is the fifth brightest star visible from the mid-northern latitudes that is south of the celestial equator, behind Sirius, Rigel, Spica and Antares.
Saturn, slightly brighter than Fomalhaut, is 21.8° to the upper right of that star. The Ringed Wonder is at the western end of a string of four morning planets. It is slowly retrograding in eastern Capricornus, near the star Deneb Algedi – meaning “the kid’s tail.” It’s moving very slowly westward compared to the star. Weekly observations of the planet compared to the star shows its slow western progress.
Bright Jupiter, likely the easiest planet to identify, is nearly 25° up in the east-southeast and 39.6° to the lower left of Saturn.
Mars, marching eastward away from Jupiter, is 5.8° to the lower left of the Jovian Giant. The planet is in Cetus, the Sea Monster, stepping into Pisces tomorrow morning.
Brilliant Venus, only 7° up in the east-northeast, is 37.8° to the lower left of Jupiter. The planet is quickly stepping eastward compared to the other three planets. Each morning the gap to slow-moving and retrograding Saturn widens. This morning, the Morning Star is over 77° to the lower left of the Ringed Wonder.
Mercury is slowly emerging from bright twilight. It rises 50 minutes before the sun and the same interval after Venus rises. In about a week, speedy Mercury becomes visible to the lower left of Venus, making the five bright planets visible simultaneously. This display is unusual because the five bright planets are lined up in order from the sun – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
Each evening, the moon continues to wax and appear farther eastward as night falls. The moon’s phase, 65% illuminated, easily lights the terrestrial landscape enough to cast shadows.
The bright moon is in Virgo, 18.8° to the upper right of Spica and 4.4° to the right of Porrima.
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- 2023, December 18: Pinched VenusDecember 18, 2023: Look for Venus between the Scorpion’s claws in the southeast before sunrise. The thick crescent moon is in the evening sky with Jupiter and Saturn.
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- 2023, December 16: Venus Clawed, Evening Crescent Nears SaturnDecember 16, 2023: Before daybreak, Venus is above the Scorpion’s southern claw. After nightfall, the crescent moon nears Saturn.
- 2023, December 15: Brilliant Morning Star, Evening Lunar CrescentDecember 15, 2023: Before sunrise, brilliant Venus approaches Zubenelgenubi, the Scorpion’s southern claw. The crescent moon returns to the western evening sky.