August 24, 2022: The thin lunar crescent appears above Venus and below the Gemini Twins before sunrise. Mars and Jupiter shine during the morning sky. After sunset, Jupiter and Saturn are in the eastern sky.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:08 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:37 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Here is the planet forecast for today:
A thin crescent moon is low in the east-northeast during morning twilight. The slight sliver is only 8% illuminated. The earlier in twilight that this slice is spotted, the easier it is to see earthshine in the lunar night.
Sunlight reflects from Earth’s oceans, clouds, and land to gently illuminate the moon’s nighttime. From the moon, Earth is bright and nearly full, 92% illuminated.
The view is highlighted with a binocular and captured with a tripod-mounted camera, set for exposures up to a few seconds.
One hour before sunrise, the waning crescent moon is below the Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux and about 20° above Venus.
The Morning Star is slowly slipping back into bright twilight and likely a challenge to see with neighborhood trees and buildings.
At the same time, bright Sirius is low in the east-southeast slightly higher than Venus. Procyon – the Little Dog Star – is between Venus and Sirius, but higher than both of them.
Mars, the second bright planet in the morning sky, is nearly two-thirds of the way up in the southeast. It marches eastward in Taurus toward a conjunction with Aldebaran on September 7th.
This morning it is below the Pleiades. It appears in the same binocular field with the star cluster, 5.8° below Alcyone, the stellar bunch’s brightest star.
Mars is moving toward the star 37 Tauri (37 Tau on the chart), passing 2.6° to the lower right of the star on August 27th.
Bright Jupiter, the third bright morning planet, is about halfway up in the sky above the southwest horizon. The Jovian Giant is retrograding in Cetus, soon to move into Pisces.
Retrograde motion is an illusion from Earth overtaking and passing planets beyond Earth’s orbit. The line of sight from Earth to the planet normally moves eastward compared to the sideral background as the two planets revolve around the sun. As our world overtakes and passes between the planet and the sun, the line of sight moves westward for a period of time. This year Jupiter retrogrades for 118 days while Saturn retrogrades during 140 days.
Saturn is nearly impossible to see at this time. It is just above the horizon in the west-southwest, hiding in the dense atmosphere. Near the horizon, the atmosphere dims stars, planets, moon, and sun. At Saturn’s brightness, it is virtually out of sight. On the 28th, Venus rises as Saturn sets, making the separation official.
The next maximum separation or opposition between two bright planets is with Venus and Jupiter on October 1st. This morning the separation is nearly 128°.
Saturn is rising before sunset. An hour after sundown, it is nearly 15° up in the southeast. An hour later, Jupiter is low in the east with Saturn higher in the southeast.
Like Jupiter, Saturn is retrograding near Deneb Algedi and Nashira. Through a binocular locate the planet and the named stars with the star Iota Capricorni (ι Cap on the chart).
Mars rises over two hours after Jupiter. After midnight, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars are along an arc from the south-southwest to the east. As twilight begins tomorrow Saturn nears the horizon, dipping into the murky atmospheric filter as Venus rises, leaving Jupiter and Mars with the Morning Star.
- 2023, December 19: A Scorpion Fumble, Moon MidwayDecember 19, 2023: Before sunrise, Venus appears below the Scorpion’s claws. After sundown, the moon is nearly midway from Saturn to Jupiter.
- 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.
- 2023, December 17: Celestial PairsDecember 17, 2023: Before sunrise, Venus passes Zubenelgenubi, a planet-star conjunction. After sundown, Saturn and crescent moon are paired, a planet-moon conjunction.
- 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.