June 24, 2022: The crescent moon approaches Venus in the eastern sky before sunrise. The five bright planets are aligned in order from the sun in a rare planet parade.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:16 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:30 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The rare morning planet parade peaks with the crescent moon approaching Venus this morning. Begin looking about an hour before sunrise for the string of five bright planets along an arc extending from the east-northeast to the south.
This morning the moon is between brilliant Morning Star Venus and bright Jupiter. The morning’s brightest planet is over 8° above the east-northeast horizon. Mercury is too its lower left, but not high enough to be seen at this hour.
Venus has been shining in the morning sky since January, passing Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter during the morning hours.
At this level of twilight, the Pleiades star cluster might be visible to the unaided eye. The stellar bundle is 5.8° to the upper left of Venus. Both easily fit into a binocular’s field of view. Take a look.
The crescent moon, 19% illuminated, is 20° to the upper right of Venus. Use the binocular to easily see that the lunar night is gently illuminated. This effect is known as earthshine, reflected sunlight from Earth’s oceans, clouds, and land lights the lunarscape.
The planet Uranus is in the same binocular field as the lunar crescent this morning. The dim aquamarine star is 6.2° to the lower left of the moon. This is a challenging observation because of the level of twilight that tends to wash out the dimmer stars and planets
Stepping westward from the moon, the next bright star is Jupiter, over 30° to the upper right of the lunar crescent and over 30° up in the southeast. Dimmer Mars is nearly midway from the crescent to Jupiter.
The final bright planet is Saturn. It is about one-third of the way up in the sky in the south.
Fifteen minutes later, the five bright planets are strung along an arc 125° long. Mercury is low in the sky, 10° to the lower left of Venus. The speedy planet is quickly retreating into bright twilight, breaking away from the five-planet parade.
A parade of five bright planets in any order occurs about every two to three years, during the times that Jupiter and Saturn are close together, followed by spells when there are no simultaneous sightings of the five bright planets. The next bunching of five planets in any order occurs during mid-April 2036. The five bright planets appear in order from the sun again during the spring of 2100.
September 12, 2022: Mars continues its eastward trek with Taurus. Overnight, Saturn, Jupiter, the bright moon, and Mars put on an exhibition that stretches across over half the sky.Keep reading
September 10, 2022: The Morning Harvest Moon is in the west-southwest, near Jupiter, before sunrise and in the east after sunset. Mars continues its eastward trek through Taurus.Keep reading