2022, August 16: Morning Moon, Bright Planets

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August 16, 2022: Sirius is making its first morning appearance before sunrise.  The gibbous moon is along an arc that includes the four bright morning planets, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

Chart Caption – 2022, August 16: Sirius is making its first morning appearance in the mid-northern latitudes. Notice the large Winter Triangle with Betelgeuse and Procyon.

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:00 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:49 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

After today’s sunrise, daybreak does not return to 6 a.m. CDT until April 22, 2023. Even when daylight time returns to standard time in November, sunrise is already after 6 a.m. in Chicago.

By 40 minutes before sunrise, Sirius is less than 4° above the east-southeast horizon.  The star is making its first appearances before sunrise for the mid-northern latitudes.

The night’s brightest star is part of an informal group known as the Winter Triangle that includes Procyon and Betelgeuse.

Each morning the Dog Star is higher in the sky and easier to see during earlier twilight.

Here is the planet forecast for today:

Morning Sky

SUMMARY OF PLANETS IN 2022 MORNING SKY

Chart Caption – 2022, August 16: Brilliant Venus is low in the east-northeast before daybreak.

Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, along with the moon, arc across the morning sky from the east-northeast skyline to the west-southwest horizon.  Venus quick-steps through Cancer while Saturn is retrograding in Capricornus.

After the 28th, Saturn sets before Venus rises.  Then only three bright planets are visible simultaneously, either Venus or Saturn with Jupiter and Mars.

This morning an hour before sunrise, Venus is only 5.0° above the east-northeast horizon, 13.6° below Castor, one of the Gemini Twins. 

The sun seems to be reeling Venus back toward it. The Morning Star rises 93 minutes before daybreak, losing a few minutes of rising time each morning.  The planet reaches its superior conjunction on the far side of the sun during early October.

Chart Caption – 2022, August 16: Mars and the Pleiades are high in the southeast during morning twilight.

MARS OPPOSITION 2022 SUMMARY

Find Mars nearly two-thirds of the way up in the sky above the southeast horizon.  It continues its eastward march through Taurus, to the lower right of the Pleiades. 

Chart Caption – 2022, August 16: Mars and the Pleiades appear in a binocular field of view.

This morning, Mars is 6.2° to the lower right of the brightest star in the cluster, Alcyone – also known as Eta Tauri.  The Red Planet passes this star on the 20th. Mars and the star cluster nicely fit into a binocular field of view this morning.

In three mornings, Mars, the moon, and the Pleiades fit into a binocular field that is 7.5° across.  This close rare gathering of this trio does not appear again in a sideral target this size until June 18, 2058!

Mars eastward march is easily observed.  Each clear morning, watch the planet appear farther eastward.  By early September it reaches Aldebaran and the horns – Elnath and Zeta Tauri – during October.

This morning, the bright moon, 77% illuminated, is over halfway up in the south. Each morning it seems to jump farther eastward from its location the previous morning.

Chart Caption – 2022, August 16: The gibbous moon appears to the upper left of Jupiter before sunrise.

Find bright Jupiter, 12.8° to the lower right of the lunar orb and about halfway up in the south-southwest.  The planet is retrograding in Cetus, the Sea Monster.

Photo Caption – This Hubble Space Telescope view of Jupiter, taken on June 27, 2019, reveals the giant planet’s trademark Great Red Spot, and a more intense color palette in the clouds swirling in Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere than seen in previous years. The colors, and their changes, provide important clues to ongoing processes in Jupiter’s atmosphere.

For sky watchers with telescopes, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is in the middle of the planet at 1:10 a.m. CDT.  The long-lived “storm” has been observed for over 400 years.  The planet’s rapid rotation begins to display the spot 50 minutes before the central passing and it disappears by 2 a.m. CDT.

Chart Caption – 2022, August 16: Saturn is low in the west-southwest before sunrise.

Saturn is becoming more difficult to observe during morning twilight.  A few mornings after its opposition, the Ringed Wonder is becoming easier to see in the evening sky.  Saturn is retrograding in eastern Capricornus, near Deneb Algedi and Nashira.  Find Saturn less than 10° above the west-southwest horizon.

This morning the Venus – Saturn span is nearly 164°, indicating that these two planets are nearly at their opposition.  Last call for the morning planet parade nears.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2022, August 16: Jupiter, Saturn, and the moon are in the eastern sky after sundown.

Now two days after its opposition, Saturn is low in the east-southeast as night falls.  To see it easier wait until later in twilight or later during the evening.

Mercury, on its worst appearance of the year for northern hemisphere sky watchers, is less than 5° above the west horizon.  It hides in the bright glow of evening twilight.  The planet sets 57 minutes after sunset.  The speedy world does not reach its evening greatest elongation until the 27th, but by then, Mercury sets 50 minutes after sunset.

By three hours after sunset, Jupiter joins Saturn in the eastern sky.  The moon is just above the east horizon.

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