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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
September 9, 2022: Mars continues its eastward march through the bright starfields of Taurus. The Harvest Moon is between Jupiter and Saturn after sunset.Keep reading
September 8, 2022: Three bright planets – Venus, Mars, and Jupiter – are visible before sunrise. Mars continues its eastward march in Taurus. After sundown, the bright moon is near Saturn.Keep reading
September 7, 2022: Mars passes Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus, this morning. The conjunction’s gap is 4.3°. This evening, the bright moon is near Saturn.Keep reading