2022, October 7: See Mercury before Sunup, Moon Nears Jupiter

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October 7, 2022: Mercury is visible before sunrise in the eastern sky.  After sundown, the bright gibbous moon nears the bright planet Jupiter.

Chart Caption – 2022, October 7: Mercury is low in the eastern sky before sunrise, near Zavijava.

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:54 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:22 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

This morning and for the next few mornings, Mercury is putting on its best morning display of the year.  The ecliptic is highly inclined with the eastern horizon during autumn mornings.  About 45 minutes before sunrise, the planet is over 8° up in the east and 1.3° to the upper left of Zavijava, also known as Beta Virginis.  Use a binocular to initially find the star.

Leo is above Mercury.  Denebola, the lion’s tail, is nearly 12° to the upper left of Mercury and Regulus, the heart, is over 25° to the upper right.

Mercury’s brightness is nearing Mars’ intensity, although the speedy planet is dimmed by its low altitude – height above the horizon – and the growing morning twilight. For the next five mornings, the planet rises at least 90 minutes before daybreak, appearing less than 10° above the horizon at mid-twilight.  It is easy to spot without an optical assist from a binocular.  Find a clear horizon toward the east.

Chart Caption – 2022, October 7: Mars is high in the southern sky with Taurus, before daybreak.

MARS OPPOSITION 2022 SUMMARY

Fifteen minutes earlier, when the sky is darker, look for Mars and Taurus, high in the southern sky.  The Red Planet continues its eastward march in Taurus, near the southern horn, Zeta Tauri.  Mars is 3.4° from the star this morning.

Chart Caption – 2022, October 7: Through a binocular Mars is near Zeta Tauri and the Crab Nebula (M1)

Mars and Zeta easily fit into a binocular field of view with the Crab Nebula (M1 on the chart), the remains of an exploded star that was first prominent in 1054.

Venus is essentially lost in bright morning twilight.  Persistent sky watchers can find it in the eastern sky immediately before sunrise. 

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2022, October 7: The moon is near Jupiter after sundown. Saturn is in the south-southeast.

The nearly-Full moon, 96% illuminated, is in the eastern sky after sundown. The Full phase (Hunter’s Moon) occurs in two evenings.  Technically, the moon is at opposition with the sun and Full at 3:55 p.m. CDT.  This is two and a half hours before it rises.  On that evening its phase is still 100% illuminated.

An hour after sunset this evening, the moon is in the east-southeast.  “That bright star” to its left is Jupiter.  The Jovian Giant is the brightest “star” in the sky tonight, with Venus fading from easy viewing.

Dimmer Saturn is to the upper right of the lunar orb, about one-third of the way up in the south-southeast. 

Chart Caption – 2022, October 7: Neptune appears in the same binocular field of view with the bright moon.

Neptune is in the same binocular field as the bright moon.  That lunar glare makes the view challenging.  The distant world is 4.3° to the upper left of the lunar orb.  It is to the lower left of four stars, perhaps making a parallelogram or trapezoid.  Once you locate the field of view, move the binocular slightly to take the moon out of the view to see the starfield and the planet easier.  Neptune appears as a bluish star.  A telescope is needed to see the globe.

Begin looking for Fomalhaut – the mouth of the southern fish – low in the southeastern sky.  Its annual sighting after sundown is a notice that autumn has arrived.

The Ringed Wonder leads the evening planet parade westward.  Mars is the third planet in the parade.  It rises over 3.5 hours after sundown. Around midnight, Mars, Jupiter, the moon, and Saturn are strung across the sky.

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