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.
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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-northwest, 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?
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