October 1, 2022: This morning is the Venus-Jupiter opposition. After sundown, the thick crescent moon is with Ophiuchus, between Scorpius and Sagittarius.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:48 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:32 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
This morning is the Venus-Jupiter opposition. Jupiter sets as Venus rises. Beginning tomorrow, Jupiter sets in the west before the Morning Star rises at the east horizon. This planet-to-planet opposition is difficult to observe because Venus appears near the sun, rising only 30 minutes before sunup.
A similar opposition occurred in 2020 in the morning sky, although Venus appeared in the eastern sky about three hours before sunrise. The same sky watching challenge occurred when the two planets were near the horizon, but without bright twilight.
On these occasions, this opposition is the last time the two planets can be seen together in the morning sky. Venus quickly steps eastward while Jupiter’s yearly westward migration opens a gap to the planets to 180°, opposition.
Sometimes we think of a planet’s opposition with the sun, when Earth is between the solar system’s central star and the planet. Near this time, the planet is closest to Earth and brightest in the sky. Saturn’s opposition with the sun occurred during August, Jupiter’s, September 26, while the Mars opposition is December 7.
This morning Earth is between Venus and Jupiter. After this opposition, Venus passes behind the sun on October 22nd. It slowly moves into the western evening sky joining Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars for a five-planet display near year’s end.
Here is today’s planet summary:
SUMMARY OF PLANETS IN 2022 MORNING SKY
An hour before sun and the opposition, Jupiter is less than 10° up in the west.
Mars is higher in the south-southwest, marching eastward in front of the Bull’s distant stars, near Zeta Tauri, the southern horn.
Mercury rises 70 minutes before sunrise. It is about 4° up in the east at 45 minutes before sunrise, but it is too dim to find easily from the atmosphere’s filtering effects for celestial wonders near the horizon.
One hour after sunset, the moon, 39% illuminated, is low in the southwest, in front of Ophiuchus, the Serpent Holder. The star Sabik, meaning “the second winner”, is to the upper right of the lunar orb and near the character’s knee.
The moon is clearly between Scorpius, accented by Antares, and the Teapot shape of Sagittarius. This evening the moon is over 15° to the upper left of the heart of the Scorpion, and 6.5° to the right of the star that dots the tip of the pot’s spout.
Tomorrow the moon reaches its First Quarter phase at 7:14 p.m. CDT.
This evening after sunset, bright Jupiter is low in the eastern sky, while Saturn is higher in the south-southeast. Both planets are retrograding, Jupiter in front of Pisces, Saturn with Capricornus. This illusion is from Earth passing and moving away from the planets near their oppositions. Mars’ retrograde begins on October 30.
Early risers and night owls can find Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn along an imaginary arc from the east to the west-southwest after midnight.
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