2022, August 1:  Mars-Uranus Conjunction, Evening Moon

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August 1, 2022: Mars passes Uranus before sunrise.  The Red Planet is part of the expanding morning planet parade.  The evening crescent moon is in the western sky.

Chart Caption – 2022, August 1: Jupiter and Saturn are in the southern sky during morning twilight.

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:45 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:09 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Today is the date of the heliacal rising of Sirius for latitude 30° north. The date of the first appearance depends on latitude. More southerly latitudes see the star first.

Morning Sky

SUMMARY OF PLANETS IN 2022 MORNING SKY

This morning Mars, marching eastward in Aries, passes the planet Uranus.  Mars movement is obvious from morning to morning through a binocular.  While Mars is not as bright as Venus or Jupiter, start by finding Jupiter.

At one hour before sunrise, the Jovian Giant is over halfway up in the southern sky.  It is the second brightest “star” in the morning sky after Venus.  Jupiter is retrograding in Cetus.  Its apparent westward motion began a few days ago and it seems to be in the same spot compared to the sidereal background. If you’re out earlier looking for Mars and Uranus, it’ll still be in the south, but more south-southeast before twilight begins.

With Jupiter in Cetus, the Sea Monster’s tail – Deneb Kaitos – is below the planet, about halfway to the horizon.  Farther westward is Fomalhaut – the “mouth of the southern fish.”  Skat – the lower leg of Aquarius – is about 15° to the upper right of Fomalhaut.

Chart Caption – 2022, August 1: Saturn and the Capricornus starfield through a binocular.

Saturn is about 20° up in the southwest, higher than Fomalhaut, but lower than Skat.  It is retrograding in eastern Capricornus, near the stars Deneb Algedi and Nashira.  Each clear morning, find the planet with the starfield through a binocular.  It is moving toward Iota Capricorni (ι Cap on the chart)

Chart Caption – 2022, August 1: Mars nears the Pleiades star cluster before sunrise.

MARS OPPOSITION 2022 SUMMARY

Back to Mars, start looking as early as possible to see the planet with Uranus and the background stars.  Morning twilight begins about two hours before sunrise.  An earlier start provides a darker sky to find the dimmer planet through a binocular.

The Red Planet is over halfway up in the east-southeast, over 40° to the left of Jupiter.  The planet is not as bright as might be expected.  It is over 13° to the right of the Pleiades star cluster.

The Pleiades rides on the back of Taurus.  The Bull’s head is outlined by the Hyades star cluster, while Aldebaran dots an eye.

Chart Caption – 2022, August 1: Through a binocular Mars is to the lower left of Uranus.

Use a binocular to find Mars, 1.3° to the lower right of the more-distant Uranus that looks like an aquamarine star.  The star Botein – meaning “the belly” – appears at the upper left of the field of view.  Mars and Uranus fit into the same binocular field of view for several more mornings.

This morning Mars is about 105 million miles away, while Uranus is over 17 times more distant.

Chart Caption – 2022, August 1: This chart shows the motion of Mars compared to the background stars from August 1, 2022, through April 1, 2023.

The Red Planet is beginning an interesting component of its apparition.  It moves from Aries into Taurus on August 9 and stays there until March 2023.  Make frequent observations of its location in the rich starfields of the constellation.  It passes the Pleiades on August 20.  Watch it pass the Hyades and move between the horns before it retrogrades on October 30, passing opposition on December 7.  On January 12, 2023, it reverses its direction and starts eastward again, moving between the horns for a third time.  Mars passes Aldebaran, Elnath, and Zeta Tauri three times.  It has triple conjunctions with other stars as well. Choose your favorites in the constellation and watch Mars pass them.

Chart Caption – 2022, August 1: Venus is low in the east-northeast before daybreak, near the Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux.

Venus is the fourth planet this morning.  It is low in the east-northeast, likely behind the neighborhood trees, houses, or other structures.  It is quickly stepping through Gemini.  The Twins, Castor and Pollux, are to the left of the brilliant planet.

Venus is slowly slipping into brighter twilight, rising one to two minutes later each morning until it passes its solar conjunction during October, to reappear in the evening sky later during the year.

Four bright planets are strung along the plane of the solar system, from the east-northeast horizon to the southwest.

Evening Sky

Mercury is in a poorly-observable apparition in the evening sky.  It is somewhat bright but hiding in bright twilight.  At 30 minutes after sunset, it is only 3° above the west-northwest horizon.  From a spot with a clear horizon and a binocular, try to see the planet. While it is brighter than any star in the sky until Jupiter rises, it is hiding in bright twilight. The speedy planet sets 50 minutes after sundown.  If you saw it during its appearance in the five-planet alignment during late June, it’s more difficult to see than on those mornings.

Saturn, nearing its opposition on August 14, rises in the east-southeast 47 minutes after the sun sets. Look for it later in the evening.

Chart Caption – 2022, August 1: The crescent moon is in the west after sunset.

One hour after sunset, the crescent moon, nearly 15° up in the west is 11.4° to the lower left of Denebola – the Lion’s tail – and 2.6° above Zavijava – meaning “the corner of the barking dog.”

Photo Caption – 2021, January 15: The thin waxing moon with earthshine, reflected sunlight from Earth’s features gently illuminates the lunar night.

This is another evening to observe earthshine on the moon and attempt to photograph it with exposures up to a few seconds with a tripod-mounted camera.

Chart Caption – 2022, August 1: Jupiter and Saturn are in the eastern sky, three hours after sunset.

By three hours after sunset, Saturn is low in the southeast, while Jupiter is above the horizon in the east.  Mars rises over an hour later.  By the beginning of morning twilight, the ever-expanding morning planet parade extends from the east-northeast to the southwest, similar to what was there this morning.

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