July 20, 2022: Today is the anniversary of the first moon landing. In the morning sky, the moon is between Mars and Jupiter. Saturn rises into the southeastern sky during the evening hours.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:33 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:20 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
On this date fifty-three years ago, humans walked on the moon.
Here is today’s planet forecast
The moon is at its Last Quarter phase this morning at 9:19 a.m. CDT. If the sky is clear, it can be found about halfway up in the southwest at this hour.
An hour before sunrise, that moon is about halfway up in the southeast, between bright Jupiter and Mars. The Jovian Giant is that “bright star” about 17° to the upper right of the lunar orb, while Mars is dimmer and about 15° to the lower left.
Jupiter is slowing down its eastward advance in Cetus. Deneb Kaitos, the Sea Monster’s tail, is over 20° to the lower right of the planet.
For sky watchers with telescopes, look for Jupiter’s Great Red Spot about an hour either side of 3:50 a.m. CDT, when the atmospheric disturbance is in the center of the planet in the southern hemisphere. Additionally, the moon Callisto is farthest west of the Jovian Giant. The moon can be seen as a star near the planet through a binocular, if held steadily.
Mars is marching eastward in Aries, generally toward the Pleiades star cluster, over 20° to the left of the planet. The Red Planet is nearly 12° below Hamal, Aries’ brightest star.
The Pleiades star cluster is part of Taurus the Bull. Mars passes the cluster in a month. Pleiades is above the Bull’s head that is made by Aldebaran.
Shifting the scene farther eastward, brilliant Venus is about 9° up in the east-northeast. It is quickly stepping eastward in Gemini, below Elnath and Zeta Tauri (ζ Tau on the chart), the Bull’s horns. Use a binocular to see Venus with the starfield that includes Propus (Toe) and Tejat Posterior (heel) that are part of Castor’s foot. The character is one of the Gemini Twins. So, it appears as if Castor is kicking a ball. During the next few mornings watch Venus move past these stars.
Venus is slowing moving back toward the sun. For the rest of this month, it is about this altitude – height above the horizon at this hour. Seeing it is a challenge. Trees or other neighborhood obstructions may block its view.
The fourth bright planet is Saturn. It is farther westward from the moon and Jupiter, nearly 130° from Venus. The gap between Venus and Saturn continues to widen. Later next month Saturn sets as Venus rises. Venus and Saturn are on opposite sides of Earth, a Venus – Saturn opposition.
The Ringed Wonder is retrograding in eastern Capricornus near the stars Deneb Algedi and Nashira. To watch Saturn retrograde, use a binocular to see it pass the two named stars as well as a trio of dim stars nearby, cataloged as 42 Capricorni (42 Cap on the chart), 44 Capricorni (44 Cap), and 45 Capricorni (45 Cap).
While Saturn passes the trio of dim stars, watch it make interesting triangles with Deneb Algedi and Nashira. On the 30th, it makes an isosceles triangle with them.
Saturn is the first bright planet to enter the evening sky. It rises about seventy minutes after sunset. During the night it appears farther west. Tomorrow morning it is in the south-southwest before sunrise.
Our planet is quickly catching Saturn. On August 14, Earth passes between the sun and Saturn, the planet’s opposition with the sun. The Ringed Wonder rises in the eastern sky at sunset and sets in the west at sunrise.
- 2023, October 21: Three Bright Planets, First Quarter MoonOctober 21, 2023: Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are easy to locate during nighttime hours. The First Quarter moon phase occurs this evening.
- 2023, October 20: Jupiter’s Double Shadows, Mercury at Superior ConjunctionOctober 20: After midnight, Jupiter’s moons’ shadows dance across the cloud tops. Mercury is at superior conjunction.
- 2023, October 19: Poured Moon, See Planet UranusOctober 19: Sagittarius seems to pour the moon into the sky this evening. Find Uranus with a binocular.
- 2023, October 18: Moon-Antares Conjunction, Bright PlanetsOctober 18, 2023: The moon is near Antares after sunset. Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the sky during the nighttime hours.
- 2023, October 17: Scorpion MoonOctober 17, 2023: The crescent moon is with Scorpius during evening twilight. Venus and Jupiter gleam from the predawn sky.