September 24, 2022: Before daybreak, Mars is visible between the Bull’s head and horns. In the evening Saturn leads the planet parade westward.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:40 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:44 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Even though the equinox occurred two days ago, daylight is still longer than darkness. At Chicago’s latitude, there is no exact day of 12 hours of daylight and nighttime. During the next two days, nighttime begins to exceed daytime.
Here is today’s planet forecast:
SUMMARY OF PLANETS IN 2022 MORNING SKY
Step outside an hour before sunrise, bright Jupiter is low in the west-southwest. It is lower each morning. The planet continues the retrograde motion illusion compare to Pisces, as our world quickly moves between the Jovian Giant and the sun.
Bright Mars is high in the south, marching eastward in front of Taurus. It is about halfway from Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster, outlining the Bull’s head, to the horns, tipped by Elnath and Zeta Tauri.
Mars’ quick march is beginning to slow to begin its retrograde on October 30.
Through a binocular, Mars is west of Iota Tauri (ι Tau on the chart). It passed the star yesterday morning. Mars moves into the same binocular field as Zeta Tauri in a few mornings. The Red Planet does not appear in the same field of view with Zeta and Elnath. The stellar pair is too far apart to fit into a single binocular field.
Mars passes between the horns on October 17th for the first of three times during this opposition period.
Fifteen minutes later, the razor-thin crescent moon, 2% illuminated, is less than 10° up in the east. It is over 15° to the lower left of Regulus, Leo’s brightest star. This is the last morning to see the lunar orb in this phase cycle. The moon reaches its New moon phase tomorrow at 4:55 p.m. CDT, beginning lunation 1234.
The lunation (a cycle of lunar phases) counting system began on January 17, 1923 with lunation 1. The system was started by E.W. Brown who worked on the details of the moon’s orbit. Look for the waxing crescent moon low in the west-southwest after sundown in three evenings.
Venus, rising 39 minutes before the sun, is more difficult to see. As sunrise approaches, it is very low in the eastern sky with a binocular. Can you find it without the binocular’s optical assist?
Venus is moving toward its superior conjunction on October 22. Then, it slowly climbs into the western evening sky after sunset, shining as the Evening Star. Later in the year it joins Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars for another five-planet display.
Meanwhile, Venus and Jupiter are nearly 180° apart in the sky, a planet-to-planet opposition. After October 1, Jupiter sets before Venus rises.
Jupiter and Saturn are in the eastern sky after sunset. Jupiter’s opposition occurs in two evenings. It rises at about sunset this evening and is low in the east as the sky darkens.
The Ringed Wonder leads the planet parade westward through the evening sky. This planet is less than one-third of the way up in the southeast at one hour after sunset, near the stars Deneb Algedi and Nashira in eastern Capricornus.
Through a binocular, Saturn is widening the gap to Nashira and moving toward Iota Capricorni (ι Cap on the chart). Saturn continues with its retrograde for about another month.
Mars rises before midnight and a few hours later the Red Planet, Jupiter, and Saturn are strung across the sky from east to the west-southwest.
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