2022, September 12: Mars Treks Eastward, Overnight Planet Exhibition

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September 12, 2022: Mars continues its eastward trek with Taurus.  Overnight, Saturn, Jupiter, the bright moon, and Mars put on an exhibition that stretches across over half the sky.

Photo Caption – 2021, July 2: Sunrise!

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:27 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:07 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

This evening, the moon rises just 23 minutes later than it did last night. This is from the angle the solar system makes with the eastern horizon, from mid-northern latitudes.  This is known as the Harvest Moon effect.  This evening the moon rises nearly an hour after sundown.

The effect can be seen at any moon phase, when the origin point of the celestial coordinate system is near the eastern horizon, and the moon is near it.  It is pronounced with the Full phase and the public’s annual interest in the Harvest Moon.

Here are the planet highlights for today:

Morning Sky

SUMMARY OF PLANETS IN 2022 MORNING SKY

Chart Caption – 2022, September 12: The bright moon is near Jupiter above the west-southwest horizon before daybreak.

This morning the bright moon, 95% illuminated, stands less than halfway up in the west-southwest, one hour before sunup.  It is nearly 10° to the upper left of bright Jupiter.

The Jovian Giant is the brightest star in the sky at this hour, especially with Venus rising later.

Jupiter is retrograding in Pisces, leading up to its opposition from the sun, on the 26th. On this evening the sun and Jupiter are in opposite ends of the sky.

Chart Caption – 2022, September 12: Mars is with Taurus high in the south-southeast before sunrise.

Farther east this morning, Mars is marching eastward through the bright starfields of Taurus toward the Bull’s Horns, Elnath and Zeta Tauri.  The Red Planet is high in the south-southeast during morning twilight.  It is to the upper left of Aldebaran, the constellation’s brightest. 

MARS OPPOSITION 2022 SUMMARY

In this bright moonlight, use a binocular to see Aldebaran and the Hyades make the “V” of Taurus.  Mars is also to the upper left of Epsilon Tauri (ε Tau), at the top of the letter opposite Aldebaran.

Chart Caption – 2022, September 12: Through a binocular Mars is 1.8° to the lower right of Tau Tauri (τ Tau).

Move the binocular slightly upward and to the left, leaving Epsilon to the lower right portion of the field of view.  Mars is near the center with Tau Tauri (τ Tau) to the upper left.  Mars has a conjunction with that star this morning.  The gap is 1.8°.  Mars continues to move beyond this star each morning.  Look for the moon near Mars on the mornings of the 16th and 17th.

Venus is sliding into bright morning twilight, rising 56 minutes before daybreak.  Twenty minutes later, the Morning Star is low in the east-northeast.  It continues a slow-fade into bright twilight until its solar conjunction later next month.  Then it appears in the west after sundown later in the year during another five-planet exhibition.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2022, September 12: Bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the eastern sky before sunrise.

An hour after sunset, bright Jupiter is above the eastern horizon, while Saturn is to the Jovian Giant’s upper right in the southeastern sky.

Chart Caption – 2022, September 12: Through a binocular, Saturn is 1.9° to the lower left of Iota Tauri (ι Tau).

Saturn is retrograding in Capricornus, near Deneb Algedi and Nashira.  Through a binocular, spot the star Iota Capricorni (ι Cap on the chart).  The Ringed Wonder is 1.9° to the lower left of Iota.  It continues to move closer to the star until later next month, when retrograde ends.

By two hours after sundown, the bright moon, 91% illuminated, is low in the east-northeast about 20° to the lower left of Jupiter.

Mars enters the sky nearly four hours after sunset, making a necklace of three bright planets across the sky, from Mars to Saturn in the south.  The quartet nearly spans 125°.

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