July 30, 2022: Saturn forms an interesting triangle with two stars in Capricornus before daybreak. Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn parade in the morning sky. The thin crescent moon is in the west-northwest after sunset.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:43 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:11 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
This morning, Saturn makes an interesting triangle with two stars in Capricornus. To find the Ringed Wonder, look south during morning twilight. The bright star over halfway up in the south is Jupiter.
Jupiter started retrograding yesterday. It is in front of the stars of Cetus. Look for the Sea Monster’s tail – Deneb Kaitos – to the lower left of Jupiter, about halfway to the horizon.
For those with a telescope, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is in the middle of the planet in the southern hemisphere at 2:06 a.m. CDT. It is visible up to 50 minutes before and after the prime time. Jupiter’s rapid rotation carries it quickly around the planet.
Saturn is over 20° above the southwest horizon and over 45° to the lower right of Jupiter. The Ringed Wonder is retrograding in eastern Capricornus near the stars Deneb Algedi and Nashira.
Through a binocular this morning, Saturn makes an isosceles triangle with the two named stars. As the planet retrogrades, it makes this pattern and keeps on moving. Once you see the stellar triangle, move the binocular slightly to see Iota Capricorni (ι Cap on the chart). Saturn is moving toward that star. Watch the planet move among these stars during the next few months.
Farther eastward, brilliant Venus and Mars are joined by several bright stars. Venus continues to appear low in the east-northeast during morning twilight. It is rapidly stepping eastward in front of Gemini. The Twin stars – Castor and Pollux are to the left of the planet.
Venus is on a very slow slide toward the sun that ends with its superior conjunction during early October. This morning, it rises 111 minutes before sunrise. Each morning it rises one to two minutes later until its solar conjunction.
Brilliant Morning Star Venus and Mars are mixed with bright stars in the eastern sky. Compared to Jupiter and Saturn, Venus and Mars are closer, but they still appear as stars in the sky. Mars is about halfway up above the east-southeast horizon.
The Red Planet is marching eastward in Aries toward an opposition in Taurus near year’s end. Mars passes the Pleiades star cluster on August 20. On the previous morning, the moon appears between the planet and the stellar bunch. Mars passes between the Hyades and Pleiades, then passes Aldebaran. Mars moves between the horns near the end of October and then begins to retrograde. Watch the quick march of Mars through this constellation.
Orion is stepping across the eastern horizon to the right of Venus.
Mercury is beginning a poorly-observed evening appearance. This evening the speedy planet sets 47 minutes after sunset during brighter twilight.
About the time that Mercury sets, a thin crescent moon, 5% illuminated, is less than 10° up in the west-northwest. Use a binocular to spot the star Regulus, nearly 5° to the lower right of the crescent.
Regulus is moving into bright sunlight. It passes behind the sun on August 23, then moves into the morning sky for its first morning appearance in the morning sky during early September.
The star is the closest bright star to the ecliptic, the plane of the solar system. The planets and the moon frequently appear with Regulus.
Saturn rises in the east-southeast about the time that the moon is visible in the western sky. By three hours after sunset, The Ringed Wonder is low in the southeast. Jupiter is above the eastern horizon.
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- 2023, December 18: Pinched VenusDecember 18, 2023: Look for Venus between the Scorpion’s claws in the southeast before sunrise. The thick crescent moon is in the evening sky with Jupiter and Saturn.
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- 2023, December 16: Venus Clawed, Evening Crescent Nears SaturnDecember 16, 2023: Before daybreak, Venus is above the Scorpion’s southern claw. After nightfall, the crescent moon nears Saturn.
- 2023, December 15: Brilliant Morning Star, Evening Lunar CrescentDecember 15, 2023: Before sunrise, brilliant Venus approaches Zubenelgenubi, the Scorpion’s southern claw. The crescent moon returns to the western evening sky.