2022, October 2: Marching Mars, Steeped Moon

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October 2, 2022: Bright Mars is visible high in the southwest before daybreak.  After sunset, the First Quarter moon appears in front of the Teapot of Sagittarius.

Chart Caption – 2022, October 2: Before daybreak, Mars is high in the southwestern sky with Taurus.

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:49 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:31 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

SUMMARY OF PLANETS IN 2022 MORNING SKY

Mars is marching eastward in Taurus, closer to the horns – Elnath and Zeta Tauri – than to the head that is outlined by Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster.  This morning the Red Planet is 4.8° to the lower right of Zeta.

Mars splits the horns on the 17th for the first of three times during the next few months.

Chart Caption – 2022, October 2: Through a binocular, Zeta Tauri and the Crab Nebula (M1) are in the same field of view.

MARS OPPOSITION 2022 SUMMARY

The planet is in the same binocular field as Zeta and the Crab Nebula (labelled as M1 on the chart), the remains of an exploded star from 1054.  From urban and suburban areas, the oval nebula may blend in with the light of outdoor lighting.  Sky watchers away from outdoor lighting have a better opportunity to see the nebula through the binocular.

Jupiter is low in the west at this hour, likely behind a house or tree.  If you find it, the planet is quite bright and easily spotted.

Mercury rises about 75 minutes before sunrise.  Thirty minutes later, it is about 5° up in the east.  The planet brightens each morning, but a binocular is needed to see it.  In less than a week, the planet is easier to see at this time interval before sunrise.

Venus rises just 28 minutes before sunup and it is visible just before sunrise.  About 10 minutes before sunup, the Morning Star is about 3° up in the east.  A clear view toward the horizon, a cloudless sky, and a binocular is needed to initially see the planet.

Later in the month, Venus moves on the far side of the sun and slowly crawls into the evening sky.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2022, October 2: The moon appears to be steeped in the Teapot of Sagittarius during the early evening.

An hour after sunset, Jupiter, Saturn, and the moon are equally spaced from the east to south.

The First Quarter moon is low in the south in front of Sagittarius.  The stars resemble a teapot.  The lunar orb is clearly in the pot as if it’s steeping

With the moon’s increasing brightness, a binocular may be needed to see the dimmer stars. With that binocular, look along the moon’s day-night line.  This is where the sun is rising, making shadows very long and where the contrast is greatest.  To the south, the heavily crater lunarscape is easily visible.  To the north, the Sea of Serenity is in full sunlight.  The region is a darker area that is an impact feature that was filled in with lava.  The edge of the Imbrium Basin, curving above Serenity, is in morning light with mountains and crater rims casting shadows.

The moon occults or blocks the stars Phi Sagittarii (φ Sgr on the chart) and Nunki from South America.  The moon covers Tau Sagittarii (τ Sgr) for sky watchers in Indonesia as well.

Chart Caption – 2022, October 2: Jupiter and Saturn are in the eastern sky after sundown.

Bright Jupiter is low in the east, at this hour, and Saturn is to its upper right, about halfway to the moon. About a week after its opposition with the sun, Jupiter shines brightly in the sky all night.  It is in the south around midnight about six hours after sunset.

Chart Caption – 2022, October 2: Through a binocular, Saturn approaches Iota Capricorni (ι Cap).

Both planets are retrograding, the illusion that they are moving westward compared to the stars.  Saturn’s apparent westward trek is easy to watch compared to Deneb Algedi and Nashira, in eastern Capricornus.  In a sky without the obliterating glare of outdoor lights, Iota Capricorni (ι Cap on the chart) is visible to the unaided eye.  Others need a binocular to see it.  Saturn is moving toward that star, but it is slowing to revert to its eastward track later this month.

When Jupiter is in the southern sky, Mars is in the east-northeast, and Saturn is southwest.  Saturn sets about four hours before sunrise, while Jupiter sets before Venus rises.

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