September 19, 2022: Overnight, three bright planets – Mars, Jupiter, Saturn – and the moon stretch across the sky. Before sunrise, bright stars are in the southeastern sky with Mars and the moon.
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by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:35 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:53 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Overnight, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are joined by the moon. This parade of the bright planets is best seen five hours before sunrise (around 1:30 a.m. CDT) in Chicago when Saturn is still high enough to be seen in the southwest. At this hour, bright Jupiter is in the south, while Mars is in the east.
Here is the planet forecast for today:
SUMMARY OF PLANETS IN 2022 MORNING SKY
By an hour before sunrise, Mars and the crescent moon, 35% illuminated, are in the eastern sky. First locate the thick lunar crescent, nearly two-thirds of the way up in the east-southeast. It is near the Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux, 9.1° to the right of Castor.
Castor and Pollux join Capella, Aldebaran, Procyon, Sirius, Betelgeuse, and Rigel that made their first morning appearances during the summer. These stars are slightly farther west each morning. During winter, they are in the southern sky during the northern hemisphere winter.
Mars is marching eastward in front of Taurus, high in the southeast and 7.1° to the upper left of Aldebaran. The Red Planet is moving toward Elnath – also known as Beta Tauri – and Zeta Tauri, the Bull’s horns. It passes between them next month before it begins to retrograde on October 30th.
Mars’ eastward trek is easy to spot with a binocular. It is near the stars Tau Tauri (τ Tau on the chart) and Iota Tauri (ι Tau). Watch it close the gap to Iota and pass during the next few mornings.
At this hour, Jupiter is low in the west-southwest. The Jovian Giant is retrograding in Pisces. Earth passes between the planet and the sun, known as opposition, in a week.
Jupiter is the brightest star in the sky until Venus rises 46 minutes before sunrise. Twenty minutes later it is low in the east. The planet is slipping into bright twilight, moving toward its solar conjunction and entry into the evening sky later in the year.
What is the last day that you see Venus and Jupiter in the sky together. Unlike the Venus-Saturn opposition when Saturn was difficult to see when it was near the horizon, Venus and Jupiter are visible when they are immediately above the horizon. Their opposition occurs on October 1st. After that date, they do not appear again in the sky for this appearance of Venus.
Venus as the Evening Star appears in the western sky with Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars. As the year ends, Mercury joins them briefly for another five-planet display.
The overnight planet display is underway as the sun sets. Saturn is low in the southeastern sky, joined by Jupiter as night falls. With its opposition imminent, Jupiter rises earlier each evening and at sunset on opposition evening.
Saturn, over a month after its opposition, still retrogrades in eastern Capricornus. Without optical assistance, it is noticeably west of Deneb Algedi and Nashira. Through a binocular it is approaching Iota Capricorni (ι Cap).
During the night, Saturn and Jupiter appear farther westward. Mars rises over three hours after sunset. After midnight, the display is arched across the sky again.
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