June 25, 2022: Venus, the crescent moon, and the Pleiades make a pretty grouping in the east-northeastern sky before daybreak. The appearance of the five bright planets simultaneously is peaking during the next few mornings.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:17 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:30 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Not until 2100 are the five bright planets visible in order from the sun – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – simultaneously. During late December 2022 and during mid-April 2036, the five planets are visible in a mixed order, simultaneously.
These planet parades can be visible during about a decade, centered on the Jupiter – Saturn conjunctions. The last conjunction occurred in December 2020 – a Great Conjunction. The current parade of the five bright planets simultaneously until 2036. Be sure to see it before Mercury leaves the scene during the next week.
This morning’s planet parade is in full review, with the five bright planets visible simultaneously.
Start with the crescent moon, 12% illuminated, Morning Star Venus, and the Pleiades star cluster. They make a nicely spaced triangle in the east-northeast before sunrise.
An hour before sunrise or earlier, find a clear horizon toward the east-northeast. A hilltop or elevated structure may provide clear views over trees and other nearby obstacles.
The crescent moon is about 15° up in the east. The moon’s night portion is showing earthshine – reflected sunlight from Earth’s oceans, clouds, and continents. Earthshine’s impression can be seen wit the unaided eye or amplified through a binocular.
Capture earthshine with a tripod-mounted camera and exposures up to a few seconds. Bracket the exposures – take several at different shutter speeds – to capture the best view.
Morning Star Venus is 9.3° to the lower left of this morning’s lunar crescent.
If the sky is dark enough, the Pleiades star cluster is visible, 6.1° to the upper left of the Morning Star. Venus and the star cluster fit nicely into the binocular’s field. The moon is too far away from this pair to appear in the same field.
Tomorrow morning, the triplet fits tightly into the same binocular field. That grouping is the last time they fit into the same binocular field until 2042. Most groupings in the immediate future are like this morning’s celestial bundle. Two of them may fit into a binocular field, but not all three until April 21, 2042!
Looking to the upper right of Venus and the moon, find bright Jupiter and Mars to its lower left. Saturn is farther southward. As the sky brightens, find them every few minutes, so that you can add Mercury to the view when it becomes visible to the lower left of Venus.
One way to track the dimmer planets, Mars and Saturn, is to move to a place where they are immediately viewed above a roof top or tree branch. As the sky brightens
By 45 minutes, Mercury is about 4° above the east-northeast horizon, 10.2° to the lower left of Venus.
Bright Jupiter is nearly 40° up in the southeast. Dimmer Mars is about one-third of the way from Jupiter to the lunar crescent, 16.1° to the lower left of the Jovian Giant.
Dim Saturn is seemingly by itself, about 30° up in the south.
This five-member planet parade is breaking up. After June 27, Mercury begins rising later, appearing in brighter twilight each morning. On that morning the moon is near Mercury, indicating the speedy planet’s location.
- 2023, December 24: Morning Moon, Pleiades, Antares Heliacal RisingDecember 24, 2023: The moon appears near the Pleiades star cluster during the earlier morning hours. Antares is at its first morning appearance, known as the heliacal rising.
- 2023, December 23: Check out Planet Uranus, Pleiades near MoonDecember 23, 2023: Look for the planet Uranus and the Pleiades star cluster through a binocular during nighttime hours.
- 2023, December 22: Mercury at Inferior Conjunction, Bright Jupiter, Gibbous MoonDecember 22, 2023: Mercury is between Earth and Sun, known as inferior conjunction. Jupiter and the gibbous moon are celestial companions during nighttime hours.
- 2023, December 21: Winter Solstice, Great Conjunction Plus 3 YearsDecember 21, 2023: Winter begins in the northern hemisphere. Jupiter and Saturn are visible in the evening sky three years after their Great Conjunction.
- 2023, December 20: Morning Star, Evening Moon Nears JupiterDecember 20, 2023: Brilliant Venus is in the southeast before daybreak. After nightfall the gibbous moon nears Jupiter in the southeast sky.