June 12, 2022: Mercury is beginning to enter the morning sky to make a planet parade of the five brightest planets. After sundown, the moon is near the Scorpion’s forehead.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:15 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:26 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Mercury is beginning its entry into the morning sky, nearly 12° to the lower left of Venus. At forty-five minutes before sunrise, the planet is just above the east-northeast horizon. For sky watchers with an unobstructed view toward Mercury’s rising, then try to look for it with a binocular. The view becomes better during the next several mornings.
Otherwise, four bright morning planets – Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, shine from the eastern sky during morning twilight. It’s best to look for them earlier when twilight is not so bright.
At one hour before sunrise, Venus is over 7° above the east-northeast horizon. The bright Morning Star marks the eastern edge of the four-planet parade. While looking for Venus, use a binocular to look for the Pleiades star cluster, over 5° above the horizon and nearly 15° to the lower left of Venus. The star cluster appears higher in the sky each morning and it is easier see as the mornings progress.
At this time the bright star Capella may catch your eye, nearly 10° up in the north-northeast and almost 42° to the left of Venus. The star is slightly higher than the planet. Capella is visible in the north-northwest as night falls. From Chicago’s latitude and farther southward, the star sets during the night and rises before sunrise.
Venus is passing Uranus. In this bright twilight, the aquamarine planet is a challenge to see. Normally at the edge of eyesight in very dark conditions, a view through a binocular is a challenge in this level of twilight. Can you find it?
Bright Jupiter and Mars are to the upper right of Venus. Jupiter, 27° up in the east-southeast, is 8.2° to the upper left of dimmer Mars.
Mars is marching eastward away from Jupiter, after their conjunction last month.
Saturn, over one-third of the way up in the south-southeast, is the western edge of the parade. It rises over 5 hours before the sun and 3 hours, 30 minutes before Venus. The gap from Venus to Saturn is over 82°.
Saturn is retrograding in Capricornus, near the star Deneb Algedi – meaning “the kid’s tail.”
Fomalhaut – meaning “the mouth of the southern fish” – is to the lower left of Saturn.
As night falls in the US Central Time Zone, the bright moon, 97% illuminated, is about 20° up in the south-southeast at the forehead of Scorpius, marked by the star Dschubba. Likely the moon’s brightness overwhelms the star.
A binocular shows the moon 0.3° to the upper left of Dschubba. This is a near miss for a lunar occultation from America’s midsection. For locations farther eastward in the US Northeast and eastern Canada, the moon covers or occults the star.
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