September 7, 2022: Mars passes Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus, this morning. The conjunction’s gap is 4.3°. This evening, the bright moon is near Saturn.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:23 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:14 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The Harvest Moon effect is in full swing. The Full moon officially occurs at 4:59 a.m. CDT on the 10th.
During this time of the year, the bright waxing gibbous moon moves eastward at its normal daily step of about 13°. While moving eastward compared to the starry background, the geometry of the solar system with the local horizon creates an effect where the lunar orb rises at a very short time interval from the previous day’s rising time.
From yesterday’s moon rise until today’s rise, the interval is only 44 minutes. It decreases to 35 minutes tomorrow and 29 minutes on the 9th. Today, the moon rises an hour before sunset.
What we see in the sky is that the moon is about the same height above the horizon each evening at the same time, but it is farther eastward along the horizon.
Before the invention of artificial lighting, moonlight served as an aid to farmers collecting their fall harvest.
This effect, though, occurs anytime the moon is in this part of the orbit in the eastern sky, regardless of the moon’s phase.
Here are planet highlights for today:
Mars, marching eastward in Taurus, passes 4.3° to the upper left of Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus. Look for the Red Planet and the star high in the southeast about an hour before sunrise. Mars is the brighter of the pair.
This is a relatively wide conjunction, but the planet, Aldebaran, and the Hyades star cluster, easily fit into the same binocular field of view.
Aldebaran and the Hyades’ brighter stars make a letter “V” or an arrowhead. Notice that Mars seems to extend the “V” to the upper left of Epsilon Tauri (ε Tau on the charts).
During the next several days, watch Mars move away from this pattern and toward the horns of the Bull, Elnath – also known as Beta Tauri – and Zeta Tauri.
At this hour, Jupiter is the bright star that is about one-third of the way up in the west-southwest.
Morning Star Venus continues to slip into bright twilight. It can be found low in the east-northeast at about 45 minutes before sunrise. Through a binocular look for Regulus, 2.8° to the upper right of the planet.
One hour after sunset, the moon, 92% illuminated, is low in the southeast, and 8.2° to the lower right of Saturn.
The Ringed Wonder is retrograding in Capricornus, near the stars Deneb Algedi and Nashira. With the moon’s bright light use a binocular to see these stars. The dimmer stars in the star field are a challenge to see with this moonlight.
At this hour, bright Jupiter is just above the eastern horizon. It reaches opposition on the 26th, rising earlier each evening until it rises at sunset on opposition evening.
November 3, 2022: Before daybreak, Mars is high in the western sky above the Bull’s horns. After sundown, the gibbous moon is between Jupiter and Saturn.Keep reading
November 2, 2022: Spica is making its heliacal rising – its first morning appearance before sunrise in the east-southeast. After sundown, the gibbous moon nears Jupiter.Keep reading
November 1, 2022: Before sunrise, bright Mars is high in the southwest above the Bull’s horns – Elnath and Zeta Tauri. During the evening, the slightly gibbous moon is near Saturn.Keep reading