June 17, 2022: Five bright planets are becoming visible before sunrise. The planets are in order from the sun – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:15 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:28 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The planet parade of five bright planets – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – is visible in the eastern sky before sunrise. About an hour before daybreak, the moon is approaching Saturn. The lunar orb is 88% illuminated and about 24° up in the south.
Look for Saturn 18.6° to the upper left of the gibbous moon. It is retrograding, moving westward compared to the starry background, in eastern Capricornus, near the star Deneb Algedi.
Farther eastward, Mars marches away from Jupiter toward the east along the plane of the solar system. The Red Planet is 11.2° to the lower left of the bright Jovian Giant, the second brightest star in the sky this morning.
Farther eastward, brilliant Venus is about 8° up in the east-northeast. The star Capella is in the north-northeast, slightly higher than Venus and over 37° to the left of the planet.
Use a binocular to initially locate the Pleiades star cluster, 9.1° to the left of the Morning Star. Can you see the stellar bundle without the binocular?
Fifteen minutes later, Mercury appears above the east-northeast horizon, 10.0° to the lower left of Venus. The speedy planet rises 68 minutes before sunrise. It’ll gain another six minutes during the next week.
Mercury is fairly bright, but use a binocular to initially find it. While the planet reached its largest separation from the sun yesterday, it can climb a little higher in the sky during the next several days. Can you find the five brightest planets?
- 2023, October 23: Venus at Greatest ElongationOctober 23, 2023: Venus moves to its farthest angular distance from the sun today, known as greatest elongation. During morning twilight, the Morning Star passes Leo’s Chertan.
- 2023, October 22: Moon Approaches SaturnOctober 22, 2023: During evening hours, the gibbous moon nears Saturn in the southern sky. Venus and Jupiter are visible during morning twilight.
- 2023, October 21: Three Bright Planets, First Quarter MoonOctober 21, 2023: Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are easy to locate during nighttime hours. The First Quarter moon phase occurs this evening.
- 2023, October 20: Jupiter’s Double Shadows, Mercury at Superior ConjunctionOctober 20: After midnight, Jupiter’s moons’ shadows dance across the cloud tops. Mercury is at superior conjunction.
- 2023, October 19: Poured Moon, See Planet UranusOctober 19: Sagittarius seems to pour the moon into the sky this evening. Find Uranus with a binocular.