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.
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by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:30 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:02 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
For the early risers or night owls, the three bright planets – Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – and the moon are strung across the sky during the overnight hours. Five hours before sunrise (1:30 a.m. CDT), the gibbous moon, 82% illuminated, is over halfway up in the southeast. It is midway from Mars, one-third of the way up in the east, to Jupiter, halfway up in the south. At this hour Saturn is about 20° up in the southwest.
One hour before sunrise, look for Mars and the moon in the southern sky. Mars is over 30° to the upper left of the bright moon and 5.4° to the upper left of Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus. In this bright moonlight, use a binocular to spot the Hyades star cluster and Pleiades star cluster.
Use a binocular to locate the bright moon. Aquamarine Uranus is 6.7° to the upper left of the lunar orb, nearly on the opposite side of the field of view. Once you locate the planet move the binocular slightly to the upper left to move the moon’s glare out of the field. With the binocular’s magnification, the planet appears as a bluish star. A telescope with higher magnifications is needed to see the planet’s globe. Tomorrow, they appear again in the same field of view, although Uranus is on the right side and the moon is on the left side.
Bright Jupiter is low in the west-southwest.
At this hour, Leo’s head, also known as the Sickle of Leo, is low in the east-northeast. Regulus, the group’s bright star, is at the bottom.
Recently, we have posted several articles about the Harvest Moon and its traditional use for the collection of the fall crops.
The Sickle of Leo is likely a better signal that autumn is near. The moniker refers to a curved blade that was attached to a handle, used to cut grain for harvesting.
If you can’t find Venus, it rises 53 minutes before sunrise. Twenty-five minutes later during brighter twilight, Venus is above the east-northeast horizon. The planet’s slow slide into bright morning twilight continues.
An hour after sunset, bright Jupiter is low in the east, while Saturn is about 20° up in the southeast. Both planets are retrograding from Earth’s faster speed on a planetary path that is closer to the sun. Retrograde is an illusion from the line of sight from Earth to the distant planets that is extended to the faraway stars. When Earth is passing between the planets and the sun, that line moves westward compared to those distant stars. Jupiter is retrograding in Pisces, while Saturn is with Capricornus, near the stars Deneb Algedi and Nashira.
Look at Saturn through a binocular, the planet is 1.8° to the lower left of Iota Capricorni (ι Cap on the chart). The Ringed Wonder appears to be moving toward that star.
Saturn leads the way of the morning planet display that occurs overnight. The moon rises nearly two hours after sundown, followed by Mars about 90 minutes later.
After midnight, the three planets and the moon are stretched across the sky again.
March 2, 2023: Venus opens a gap on Jupiter in the west-southwest after their conjunction last night. The moon is near Pollux after sundown. Mars marches eastward against Taurus.Keep reading
February 28, 2023: One night before their close conjunction, Venus approaches Jupiter in the west-southwest after sundown. The moon is near the horns of Taurus with Mars nearby.Keep reading