June 19, 2022: How frequently are the five bright planets in order from the sun to create a morning or evening planet parade? The five planets are in the sky before daybreak.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:15 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:29 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
One of the oddities of this morning’s planet parade is to see them in order from the sun. Starting at the sunrise point, the five bright planets seem to be along a line extending toward the south and they are in order from the sun – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Mathematically, the planets are never lined-up on one side of the sun. The current arrangement is a combination of the planets’ locations and our view of the solar system.
This can occur in the morning sky or the evening sky. When this occurs in the evening, the planets are along the ecliptic from the sunset point, extending to the east from Mercury to Saturn.
So, how frequently does this occur? We will look at this question in the next few articles. For those readers and listeners on the podcast, here’s how you begin your search: Morning alignments occur after Great Conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn about every 20 years, when Jupiter is east of Saturn like it is now. Evening alignments occur before Great Conjunctions when Jupiter is still west of Saturn.
When were recent great conjunctions? 1961, 1981, 2000, and 2020, of course. Future Jupiter-Saturn conjunctions are 2040, 2080, 2100. If you have a planetarium computer program like Stellarium, set it for dates near these great conjunctions and follow the planets. Tomorrow, we look at morning parades for the five bright planets that appear in order.
The bright morning moon, 69% illuminated, is in the south-southeastern sky during morning twilight.
Saturn is 11.8° to the upper right of the lunar orb. The Ringed Wonder is retrograding in eastern Capricornus, near the star Deneb Algedi.
The star Fomalhaut is 15.3° below the gibbous moon.
Bright Jupiter, about one-third of the way up in the sky above the east-southeast horizon, is over 30° to the upper left of the moon.
Dimmer Mars, marching eastward away from Jupiter, is 12.4° to the lower left of the Jovian Giant. Mars is over 125 million miles away from Earth this morning, while Jupiter is nearly four times farther away.
At this hour, Venus is over 8° above the east-northeast horizon. Find a clear horizon away from houses, trees, and other obstructions.
After passing behind the sun last month, the Pleiades star cluster is making its first morning appearance. It is 7.4° to the upper left of Venus, not close enough to fit into the same binocular field of view.
The bright star Capella, nearly 40° up in the northeast, is over 35° to the upper left of the Morning Star.
Aries’ bright star, Hamal, is over 20° to the upper right of Venus
Fifteen minutes later, Mercury is 4.0° above the east-northeast horizon and 9.7° to the lower left of Venus. Can you find it without a binocular? If so look for the other four planets – the morning planet parade in order from the sun.
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