June 9, 2022: The morning planet parade of five bright planets is forming in the eastern sky before sunrise. The gibbous moon is near the star Spica after sunset.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:16 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:25 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Four bright planets are strung along the eastern sky before sunrise, while Mercury joins them soon.
At one hour before sunrise, brilliant Venus is over 7° above the east-northeast horizon. Find a sky watching spot with a clear horizon in that direction. The bright star Capella is about the same altitude – height above the horizon – as Venus, but the star is in the north-northeast, about 45° from the planet.
The star Hamal, the brightest in Aries, is 13.2° above the Morning Star.
While a challenging observation, Venus is in the same binocular field with Uranus this morning and for the next several mornings. Aquamarine Uranus is low in the sky and in twilight at this time.
The Pleiades star cluster is slowly entering the morning sky after its solar conjunction last month. The stars are not among the brightest. A binocular may reveal some of the stars about 3° above the horizon, 17.5° to the lower left of Venus.
Farther southward along the horizon, bright Jupiter and Mars are over 20° above the east-southeast horizon. Mars, marching eastward in Pisces, is 6.4° to the lower left of the Jovian Giant.
Jupiter slowly moves eastward in Pisces. It rambles into Cetus on June 26.
The ecliptic – the plane of the solar system – is very close to Cetus in southern Pisces. The planets do not move exactly on the ecliptic, but close to it. If a planet has a southerly ecliptic longitude when it moves through this part of their path around the sun, they cross into Cetus. Jupiter moves back into Pisces on September 2 as it retrogrades.
Saturn, the fourth and dimmest of the four bright planets, is one-third of the way up in the south-southeastern sky. It is retrograding in eastern Capricornus, near the star Deneb Algedi. It is the slowest of the morning planet quartet. Weekly observations of the planet’s position reveals its slow passage in the starfield.
Speedy Mercury is moving into the morning sky for a parade of the bright morning planets. This morning the planet rises 53 minutes before the sun and about 50 minutes after Venus. Uranus – as was noted previously – Neptune, and the ninth classic planet Pluto are in the sky as well.
Beginning next week, the bright five are lined up in the eastern sky in their order from the sun – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
This evening the bright gibbous moon, 75% illuminated, is in the south as night falls. It is 6.1° to the upper right of the star Spica – meaning “the ear of corn.” It is the brightest in Virgo.
Look for the small constellation Corvus, the Raven, to the lower right of Spica.
The moon’s brilliance illuminates the terrestrial landscape and casts shadows.
2022, June 29: Sagittarius A star, the Milky Way’s suspected black hole, is in the south during the midnight hour.Keep reading
June 27, 2022: The crescent moon is near elusive Mercury before sunrise. Not until 2100, will the five bright planets appear in order from the sun.Keep reading