2022, July 12: Horned Venus, Handled Moon

July 12, 2022:  As part of the pre-dawn planet parade with Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, Venus is near the horns of Taurus.  After sundown, the bright moon is in the handle of the Teapot.

2022, July 12: Venus is with Taurus low in the east-northeast before sunup. Mars is far to the upper right.
Chart Caption – 2022, July 12: Venus is with Taurus low in the east-northeast before sunup. Mars is far to the upper right.

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:27 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:26 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Morning Sky

SUMMARY OF PLANETS IN 2022 MORNING SKY

This morning, Venus passes 6.3° to the lower right of Elnath – the northern horn of Taurus. The brilliant morning star is about 9° above the east-northeast horizon at an hour before daybreak.  It continues to step eastward through the Bull as it is about to pass between the horns.

A binocular may be needed to see the dimmer background stars.  Brighter Aldebaran, shown on celestial artwork as a Bull’s eye, is nearly 15° up in the east and 13.8° to the upper right of Venus.  The star and the Hyades star cluster make a sideways “V” for the animal’s head.  Use a binocular to initially find this shape. The two long horns stretch northward along the horizon.  Elnath is nearly 14° up in the sky to the upper left of Venus.  The southern horn, Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau on the chart) is 2.3° to the lower left of the Morning Star.  Use a binocular to see Zeta.

Don’t confuse Venus with Capella, the bright star that is about 25° up in the northeast and nearly 24° to the upper left of Venus.

The Pleiades star cluster is about the same altitude as Capella.  It is above the head of the Bull in the eastern sky.

Mars is marching generally toward the Pleiades.  The Red Planet is less than halfway up in the east-southeast and about 25° to the upper right of the star cluster.  Mars passes the Pleiades in about a month.

Even with Mars’ seemingly consistent eastward march, Venus steps eastward at a faster pace.  The Venus – Mars gap is 48.2°.  The gap among the four morning planets widens for all of them.  Venus is stepping away from the other three.  Mars marches away from Jupiter.  Jupiter is slowing its eastward pace, but the gap to Saturn widens.

2022, July 12: Bright Jupiter and Mars are in the southeastern sky before daybreak.
2022, July 12: Bright Jupiter and Mars are in the southeastern sky before daybreak.

Mars is about two-thirds of the way from Venus to Jupiter.  That gap is nearly 75°.

Bright Jupiter, over 45° above the southeast horizon, is nearly 27° to the upper right of Mars. The Jovian Giant is moving slowly eastward in Cetus.  Later in the month, it begins to retrograde.

2022, July 12: Saturn retrogrades in eastern Capricornus before sunrise.
2022, July 12: Saturn retrogrades in eastern Capricornus before sunrise.

The fourth morning planet is Saturn.  It is the dimmest of the four bright morning planets.  The Ringed Wonder is less than one-third of the way up in the sky above the south-southwest horizon.  It is retrograding in eastern Capricornus, near the star Deneb Algedi.

Do not confuse Saturn with the star Fomalhaut – meaning “the mouth of the southern fish” – that is low in the south, over 20° to the lower left of Saturn.

The Venus – Saturn gap is nearly 120° and widening each morning.  When the two planets are 180° apart in the sky next month, Saturn sets as Venus rises, leaving three bright planets in the sky simultaneously, either Venus or Saturn with Jupiter and Mars.

Evening Sky

2022, July 12: As night falls, the bright moon is among the stars of Sagittarius.
2022, July 12: As night falls, the bright moon is among the stars of Sagittarius.

As night falls the bright, nearly Full moon is in the south-southeast.  While its brightness overwhelms the dimmer stars, it is in the handle of the Teapot of Sagittarius.  Use a binocular to see the starfield around the moon.  The bright star Antares is over 30° to the upper right of the lunar orb.

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