September 8, 2022: Three bright planets – Venus, Mars, and Jupiter – are visible before sunrise. Mars continues its eastward march in Taurus. After sundown, the bright moon is near Saturn.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:24 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:12 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The Harvest Moon effect continues during the next few evenings. The Full moon officially occurs at 4:59 a.m. CDT on the 10th.
Do not confuse this with the Moon Illusion, when the moon looks larger when it is near the horizon, compared to when it is higher in the sky.
Every September or early October, the bright waxing moon appears farther eastward each night. The solar system’s angle with the eastern horizon, though, causes the moon to be about the same height above the horizon each evening. The rising time interval from night to night is near its minimum.
From yesterday’s moon rise time until today’s rise time, the interval is only 35 minutes. It decreases to 29 minutes tomorrow evening. This evening, the moon rises about 25 minutes before sunset.
Traditionally, before the invention of artificial lighting, the nearly constant bright moon’s presence in the evening sky provided assistance to farmers with their harvest.
Here is the planet forecast for today:
Mars continues its eastward march through Taurus, now east of Aldebaran. This is perhaps the last morning to see the Red Planet with the “V” of Taurus made by Aldebaran and the densest part of the Hyades star cluster.
This morning, find Mars high in the east-southeast. Once you spot Mars with the Taurus “V”, move the binocular up and to the left slightly, including Epsilon Tauri (ε Tau on the chart). Epsilon is at the top of the “V” opposite Aldebaran.
Mars is generally moving toward Tau Tauri (τ Tau), passing it 1.8° to the lower right of the star in four mornings. The stars Kappa Tauri (κ Tau) and Upsilon Tauri (υ Tau) are in the field of view as well.
At this hour, bright Jupiter is less than one-third of the way up in the west-southwestern sky. The planet rises shortly after sunset and makes its way westward during the night.
Around 5 a.m. CDT, the planet’s Great Red Spot is visible through a telescope in the middle of the planet in the southern hemisphere. It is visible for about 50 minutes either side of prime time.
Venus is in its slow-slide into brighter twilight and its solar conjunction later next month. This morning it rises 62 minutes before sunrise. By about 35 minutes before daybreak, Venus is only 4° above the east-northeast horizon. Use a binocular to spot Regulus 4.0° to the upper right of the Morning Star.
The Venus to Jupiter gap is nearing 150°. In a few weeks, Jupiter sets when Venus rises, the date when the two planets are no longer visible together in the morning sky. They appear simultaneously later in the year when Venus enters the evening sky after its solar superior conjunction.
At one hour after sunset, the nearly Full moon, 97% illuminated, is low in the southeast. It is 9.2° to the lower left of Saturn.
The Ringed Wonder is retrograding in eastern Capricornus, near the stars Deneb Algedi and Nashira. In this bright moonlight, the stars are likely washed out. Use a binocular to spot Saturn’s location relative to the distant stars. Saturn is nearly a month after its opposition.
Meanwhile, Jupiter is low in the east at this hour. It is nearing its opposition with the sun on the 26th.
Set an alarm to see the Red Spot at nearly 1 a.m. tomorrow. This is two Jovian days after the appearance of the spot this morning.
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