September 6, 2022: Mars is marching eastward compared to the stars of Taurus. It is near the Hyades star cluster. The evening moon approaches Saturn.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:22 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:16 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The Full moon occurs at 4:59 a.m. CDT, on the 10th. The moon is along an arc of its orbit where it is approaching the origin point of the celestial coordinate system. When this occurs the moon’s rising time, from day-to-day, is nearing its minimum value. When this occurs, near the time of the autumnal equinox for northern hemisphere sky watchers, the moon seems to hang in the sky at the same height above the horizon from night to night, although the lunar orb is moving eastward through the sky and along the horizon. This is the Harvest Moon effect, the phenomenon that traditionally aided farmers around harvest time in the northern hemisphere.
The moon rises at 5:29 p.m. CDT, 55 minutes later than yesterday. Tomorrow, the difference in moon rise from today shrinks to 44 minutes, followed by a 35 minute-delay the following evening.
Here are planet highlights for today:
Mars continues its eastward March through Taurus. This morning, find it high in the southeastern sky, nearly above Aldebaran, marking an eye of the celestial Bull. The Red Planet is to the upper left of Epsilon Tauri (ε Tau on the charts). The planet’s place this morning seems to extend the “V” that outlines the animal’s head. That shape is made by the Hyades star cluster and Aldebaran.
Use a binocular to see the full wonder of this star cluster. A telescope looks at a region of space too small to see the myriad of stars in this region. Tomorrow Mars passes 4.3° to the upper left of Aldebaran.
Meanwhile, at this hour, bright Jupiter is about one-third of the way up in the sky above the west-southwest horizon. It is retrograding in Pisces.
Earth passes between Jupiter and the sun on the 26th, when the Jovian Giant rises at sunset and sets in the western sky near sunrise. At this time the planet is nearest to Earth and at its brightest in the sky.
At 3:25 a.m. CDT, the Great Red Spot – a long-lived atmospheric storm – is in the center of the planet in the southern hemisphere. The spot is visible for about 50 minutes before and after its best viewing location. A telescope is needed to see it.
This morning Venus is not visible at this hour. Fifteen minutes later, it peeks over the east-northeast horizon, near the star Regulus. Use a binocular to see them.
Venus continues to quickly step toward the east and its solar conjunction next month. It loses 2-3 minutes of rising time each morning, rising today 65 minutes before the sun.
The Venus – Jupiter gap is over 145° this morning. On October 1st, they are 180° apart. Venus rises as Jupiter sets. After this date, they do not appear in the morning sky simultaneously. They will appear together during evening hours later in the year.
One hour after sunset, the moon – 85% illuminated, is low in the east-southeast. As noted previously, the lunar orb is approaching the arc of its orbit where the time between moon rises is reaching its minimum values.
This evening the moon is also approaching Saturn. It is over 20° to the right of the Ringed Wonder.
Saturn is retrograding in eastern Capricornus, near the stars Deneb Algedi and Nashira. With this bright moon, consider using a binocular to see them. Tomorrow evening, the moon is less than 10° to the lower right of Saturn.
By two hours after sundown, bright Jupiter is low in the east, joining Saturn and the moon.
- 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.