August 28, 2022: Today is the Venus-Saturn opposition. Venus rises as Saturn sets. Mars continues its eastward march with Taurus. Jupiter and Saturn are in the eastern sky after sundown.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:12 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:31 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Today is the Venus – Saturn opposition. From our perspective, Venus and Saturn are 180° apart in the sky. Venus rises as Saturn sets. During recent mornings, Saturn has been in the sky as Venus rises, but the Ringed Wonder has tried to shine through the dense atmosphere at our horizon. This air makes the sun dimmer and appear orange when it rises or sets. Saturn has been virtually invisible because of our air. Today, they are officially not visible at the same time and after today, Saturn sets before Venus rises.
Venus and Saturn are visible at the same time again later in the year.
Here is the planet forecast for today:
An hour before sunrise, bright Jupiter is less than halfway up in the southwest. It is with Cetus, the Sea Monster.
The planet is retrograding, soon to move into Pisces. Retrograde is an illusion as the faster-moving Earth overtakes and passes a more distant planet. Our line of sight to the planet normally moves eastward compared to the sidereal background. When Earth overtakes the slower-moving planet, the line of sight shifts westward. This makes the planet seem to stop moving eastward and move westward for many days.
During this apparition, Mars retrogrades for 84 days, Jupiter 118 days, and Saturn 140 days.
Farther eastward, Mars is about two-thirds of the way up in the southeast, marching eastward in Taurus. The planet passes between Alcyone, the brightest star in the Pleiades and Aldebaran in two days. It passes the constellation’s brightest star on September 7th. It continues to trudge eastward, passing between the horns, Elnath – also known as Beta Tauri – and Zeta Tauri during October, before it begins to retrograde the day before Halloween.
Use a binocular to spot the Red Planet with Aldebaran and the Hyades. During the next several mornings, the eastward trek is easy to watch as it passes this stellar pile. Choose your favorite star and watch Mars move past it. This morning the planet is 6.8° to the upper right of Aldebaran.
By 45 minutes before daybreak, Venus is 5° up in the east-northeast. The Morning Star is becoming more difficult to see. It seems as though the sun is reeling it in. The planet is moving toward the far side of the sun where it passes its superior conjunction during October and it moves into the evening sky.
At this hour the three bright planets span over 130°. Like this morning’s Venus – Saturn opposition, the Venus – Jupiter opposition occurs on October 1. Venus and Jupiter are visible when each is close to the horizon, so they are not likely to be dimmed beyond visibility by the air.
. Evening Sky
Tomorrow evening the moon begins to make an appearance. This evening about 30 minutes after sunset, look for the very thin moon with a binocular low in the west-northwest about 30 minutes after the sun sets. This is a challenging observation.
Jupiter and Saturn are in the eastern sky after sundown. Bright Jupiter, less than a month before its opposition, is nearly 10° up in the east, two hours after sunset. In eastern Capricornus, Saturn is over 20° up in the southeast, near the stars Deneb Algedi and Nashira.
Follow Saturn’s retrograde with a binocular. This evening, the Ringed Wonder is 1.8° to the upper right of Nashira and 2.8° to the lower left of Iota Capricorni (ι Cap on the chart).
Saturn reverses its direction in nearly two months. By then it is 0.5° from Iota.
The planet parade begins again in the evening sky near year’s end.
September 15, 2022: Three bright planets – Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter – are strung across the sky after midnight. Before sunrise, look for the moon near Mars.Keep reading
September 14, 2022: Three bright planets and the moon are visible overnight. The moon is near Uranus before daybreak. The Sickle of Leo is in the eastern sky before sunrise.Keep reading
September 13, 2022: Contrary to Internet memes, Mars will not appear as large as the moon when the Red Planet is closest to Earth. Overnight a planet display with Mars, the moon, Jupiter, and Saturn arches across the sky.Keep reading