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2022, July 15: Moon, Saturn, Morning, Evening

This striking view of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and turbulent southern hemisphere was captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it performed a close pass of the gas giant planet.

This striking view of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and turbulent southern hemisphere was captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it performed a close pass of the gas giant planet. (NASA Photo)

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July 15, 2022: The bright gibbous moon appears with Saturn in the planet parade with Jupiter, Mars, and Venus.  About three hours after sundown, the moon is with Saturn again in the southeastern sky.

Chart Caption – 2022, July 15: Before sunrise, the gibbous moon is with Saturn in the south-southwest.

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:29 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:24 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Morning Sky

SUMMARY OF PLANETS IN 2022 MORNING SKY

The moon and four bright morning planets are scattered across an arc from the east-northeast to the south-southwest that stretches over 131°. The Venus – Saturn gap is nearly 123°.

The five objects approximately mark the plane of the solar system.  Since we are in that plane, we see the sun, moon, and planets move along that imaginary line.

At an hour before sunrise, the bright moon, 96% illuminated, is over 20° up in the south-southwest and 9.7° to the lower right of Saturn.

Notice the separation of the gibbous moon and the Ringed Wonder. Compare it to their separation around midnight tonight.

Saturn is the dimmest of the four morning planets and the farthest west.  It is retrograding in eastern Capricornus.

Chart Caption – 2022, July 15: Bright Jupiter and Mars are in the southeastern sky before daybreak.

Bright Jupiter is farther eastward from Saturn and the moon.  The Jovian Giant is halfway up in the south-southeast.  It is the second brightest star in the sky this morning.

Jupiter with Great Red Spot in the southern hemisphere (NASA Photo)

For those with a telescope, the planet’s Great Red Spot is in the south-central part of the planet’s globe at 4:43 a.m. CDT.  The sky is brightening at this hour, but take a look.  The long-lived disturbance is visible beginning about 50 minutes before its prime location as it appears from the planet’s rapid rotation.  It leaves about 50 minutes later when the sky is much brighter.

Jupiter is slowly moving eastward in Cetus, slowing each day to reverse its direction in two weeks.  Then it begins the illusion of retrograde motion, like Saturn.

Mars, marching eastward in Aries, is nearly 30° to the lower left of Jupiter.  The Red Planet is 11.8° to the lower right of Hamal, the constellation’s brightest star.  Tomorrow, Mars passes the star.  The gap is wide, but this is their closest.  Then Mars continues its eastward parade into Taurus on August 9, widening the gap to Jupiter.

Chart Caption – 2022, July 15: Venus continues its quick motion through Taurus, to the east of the Bull’s horns, before sunup.

The Red Planet is about one-third of the way from bright Jupiter to brilliant Venus, about 9° up in the east-northeast.

The Morning Star is east of the horns of Taurus, 2.6° to the left of Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau on the chart), the Bull’s southern horn.  With the bright moon, a binocular may be necessary to see the dimmer stars with Venus.  The planet and the horn easily fit into the same binocular field of view.

The Bull’s eye, Aldebaran, nearly 20° up in the east, is 17.3° to the upper right of Venus, while the star Capella – meaning “the little she-goat” – to the upper left of Venus, id nearly one-third of the way up in the sky above the northeast horizon.

Venus is slowly being roped back toward the sun.  It is rising nearly 160 minutes before sunrise from its 26° elongation from the sun.  By month’s end Venus loses nearly 10 minutes of rising time and the solar separation decreases by 4°.  By the end of August, it loses 45 minutes of rising time.  The planet dips into bright evening twilight and reaches its superior solar conjunction on October 27.  The planet then moves slowly into the evening sky, appearing low in the west-southwest before year’s end.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2022, July 15: The moon is near Saturn in the southeast three hours after sundown.

The bright moon, 91% illuminated, rises nearly three hours after sunset.  Around midnight, it is low in the southeast.  Saturn is 6.2° to the lunar orb’s upper right.

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