July 14, 2022: The moon is visible in the morning with the planet parade – Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. It reappears after night falls in the southeast with Saturn.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:28 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:25 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Here is the forecast for the visibility of the moon and planets.
The bright moon, 99% illuminated, is low in the southwest at one hour before sunrise. It is nearing Saturn. The Ringed Wonder is 24.3° to the upper left of the lunar orb and about one-third of the way up in the south-southwest, near the star Deneb Algedi. The moon’s brilliance washes out the dimmer stars.
Do not confuse Saturn with the star Fomalhaut that is slightly higher than the moon and nearly above the south cardinal point and to the lower left of the planet.
Saturn is the dimmest of the four morning planets and the farthest west. It is retrograding in eastern Capricornus.
Bright Jupiter is halfway up in the sky in the south-southeast. It is slowly moving eastward in Cetus. In nearly two weeks the planet stops moving eastward and begins to retrograde.
Generally, the planets move eastward compared to the background stars. As our world revolves quickly around the sun in comparison to the outer planets – those farther away from the sun than our world – we catch up to the planets and lap them. The planets seem to stop moving eastward and backup or retrograde. This is merely an illusion. Later, the planets reverse their course and seem to move again in their normal eastward courses.
Dimmer Mars continues to march eastward in Aries, about 28° to the lower left of Jupiter and 12.8° to the lower right of Hamal, the constellation’s brightest star.
Mars begins to retrograde at the end of October.
Looking toward the east, the Pleiades star cluster might be visible in this bright moonlight. A binocular may help with their initial sighting. They are about one-third of the way up in the sky in the east, over 24° to the lower left of Mars.
Look for Capella, the bright star that is about the same altitude – height above the horizon – as the star cluster and above the northeast horizon.
Venus is to the lower right of Capella and only about 9° up in the sky at this hour. Find a clear horizon looking toward the east-northeast. A view from a hilltop or elevated structure may help spotting the planet.
Venus’ quick speed eastward continues to expand the gap to retrograding Saturn. This morning, the four planets range across 121° of the ecliptic – the solar system’s plane. This gap continues to widen. Eventually, the gap reaches 180° so that Saturn sets as Venus rises. This occurs at the end of August. Then only three bright planets are in the sky together, either Venus or Saturn with Mars and Jupiter.
This morning Venus passes the southern horn of Taurus, Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau on the chart). The planet is 1.4° to the upper left of the star. Because of the low altitudes of Venus and Zeta, use a binocular to initially locate the star.
Elnath, the Bull’s northern horn is 6.8° to the upper right of Venus.
Notice, Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster (use your binocular) to the upper right of Venus and below the Pleiades. Together they form the head of Taurus.
The moon, 97% illuminated, rises about 90 minutes after sunset, before the end of evening twilight. Saturn follows less than 10 minutes later. By three hours after sunset, the moon is low in the southeast. Saturn is 11.9° to the left of the lunar orb.
With Saturn approaching its opposition in a month, it appears earlier in the east-southeast each evening. When Earth is between the planet and the sun, Saturn rises at sunset and is in the sky nearly all night.
During the night the moon slowly moves eastward as Earth rotates, seemingly making the moon and Saturn move westward. Before sunrise tomorrow, what is the location of the moon compared to Saturn?
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