August 22, 2022: The crescent moon appears near Castor’s foot before sunrise. Venus, Mars, and Jupiter are in the morning sky. Jupiter joins Saturn after sunset.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:06 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:40 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Here is the planet forecast for today:
This morning an elegant, thin lunar crescent, 21% illuminated, is near the foot of Castor, less than halfway up in the east. Look for earthshine on the lunar portion.
This view is improved with a binocular and captured with a tripod-mounted camera, making exposures of a few seconds.
Through that binocular, the moon is 4.0° to the lower left of the star cluster cataloged as Messier 35, M35 on the chart.
The star cluster is like the Pleiades and Hyades, except it is six to seven times farther away than the Pleiades. To the unaided eye at this distance, M35 appears as a tiny cloud, although it has over 120 member stars.
Mars is higher in the sky, 5.6° below Alcyone, the brightest Pleiad. The Red Planet is marching eastward through Taurus, passing the constellation’s brightest star, Aldebaran, on September 7.
The constellation has many stars easily visible to the unaided eye and through a binocular. Observations of the planet with the stars each morning, easily shows the planet’s eastward trek. This morning in the binocular, Mars appears with the Pleiades and 37 Tauri, 37 Tau on the chart. Mars is 3.7° to the lower right of this star. Watch the planet approach and pass the star during the next week.
Bright Jupiter is about halfway up in the southwest. To the upper right of the tail of the Sea Monster, Deneb Kaitos, the Jovian Giant is retrograding in this constellation, crossing into Pisces early next month.
Jupiter and Saturn are retrograding. This is an illusion from our faster-moving world passing these more distant planets. Each year as Earth passes between the sun and the planets, the line of sight to the distant stars, that normally moves eastward, moves westward or in a retrograde direction.
Saturn passed opposition over a week ago. Jupiter is at opposition – when Earth is between the sun and Jupiter – on September 26.
Forty-five minutes before sunrise, brilliant Venus is low in the east-northeast at about the same altitude as Sirius that is above the east-southeast horizon. The Little Dog Star, Procyon – meaning “before the dog” – is higher in the east. Venus and these stars are below Gemini and Taurus that were mentioned earlier. For the next few days, the brightest planet and the brightest star are about the same altitude before sunrise.
By an hour after sunset, Saturn is over 10° up in the southeast. An hour later, Jupiter is visible with the Ringed Wonder. At this hour, Saturn is over 20° up in the southeast with Deneb Algedi and Nashira, in eastern Capricornus. The Ringed Wonder is retrograding in front of those stars. It approaches Iota Capricorni (ι Cap) before the line of sight reverts eastward during late October.
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- 2023, December 24: Morning Moon, Pleiades, Antares Heliacal RisingDecember 24, 2023: The moon appears near the Pleiades star cluster during the earlier morning hours. Antares is at its first morning appearance, known as the heliacal rising.