August 26, 2022: A planet parade can be seen stretching across the sky during the night. The thin crescent moon offers a challenging view before sunrise.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:10 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:34 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Here is the planet forecast for today:
Three bright morning planets, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter, arc across the sky before sunrise. At one hour before daybreak, the easiest to locate is Jupiter. It is the bright star that is less than halfway up in the southwest.
The Jovian Giant is retrograding in Cetus. The apparent westward motion is an illusion from our faster moving planet overtaking and passing more distant worlds. Earth is between Jupiter and the sun on September 26. As Jupiter retrogrades it moves into Pisces early next month.
Saturn is low in the west-southwest at this hour, but the atmosphere near the horizon, dims the planet in the same fashion that it makes the sun dimmer and orange during sunrise or sunset. While it’s still in the sky with the other bright planets, it is not easily observed. In two mornings, it officially leaves the four-planet parade, setting as Venus rises. Afterward, Saturn sets before Venus crosses the horizon. Find the Ringed Wonder this evening in the southeast after sunset.
Mars, high in the southeastern sky, is marching eastward through the bright starfields of Taurus. This morning, it is 6.3° to the lower left of Alcyone, the brightest star in the Pleiades star cluster and 7.8° to the upper right of Aldebaran, the constellation’s brightest star. The Red Planet passes between these stars in four mornings.
Through a binocular this morning, Mars is 2.7° to the lower right of 37 Tauri (37 Tau on the chart). Tomorrow, Mars passes 2.6° to the lower right of the star.
The stars of Taurus make a bright background to watch Mars’ eastward trek. Here is a star map of Taurus to make a low-tech record of the planet’s progress. Plot its place with Taurus each clear night.
At this hour, brilliant Venus is low in the east-northeast. It is visible if the horizon is cloud free and without terrestrial obstructions. Look 15 minutes later when it is higher.
When Venus is slightly higher, look for Sirius above the east-southeast horizon and Procyon in the east. Procyon is higher than Sirius.
For those sky watchers wanting a challenge, look for the barely-there moon at 30 minutes before daybreak. Use Venus as a guide. Place the Morning star at the upper right edge of a binocular’s field of view, the crescent moon is at the lower right side of the field, a snug fit.
Jupiter and Saturn are in the eastern sky at the end of evening twilight. Saturn is past its opposition with the sun, appearing low in the east-southeast as darkness falls.
Two hours after sundown, Jupiter is low in the east while Saturn, retrograding in Capricornus, is less than one-third of the way up in the southeast.
Saturn’s retrograde is easily observed with a binocular. This evening, the Ringed Wonder is 1.6° to the upper right of Nashira and 2.9° to the lower left of Iota Capricorni (ι Cap on the chart). The westward motion is slow, but noticeable. It retrogrades for about another two months, reversing course 0.5° from Iota.
Mars rises over two hours after Jupiter’s appearance in the eastern sky. At that time, Saturn is in the southern sky, while Jupiter is in the southeast. These three planets span over 103°. By tomorrow morning, Saturn is again hiding in the thicker atmosphere near the horizon as Venus, Mars, and Jupiter are strung across the morning sky.
January 6, 2023: The bright Full moon appears near Castor and Pollux all night. Four bright planets – Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars – span the sky after sundown.Keep reading
January 5, 2023: The bright moon can be seen before sunrise and after sunset. Four bright planets are strung across the sky from southwest to east after sundown. Orion’s Rigel rises at sundown.Keep reading