October 10, 2022: Mercury continues to put on its best morning display of the year, while Mars marches eastward in Taurus. The bright moon is visible all night and along a planetary arc with Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:58 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:17 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Here is today’s planet forecast:
At forty-five minutes before sunup, Mercury continues its best morning display of the year. The sun’s nearest planet is about 10° up in the east, 2.1° to the lower 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 15° to the upper left, while Regulus, the heart, is over 30° to the upper right of the speedy planet.
Mercury’s brightness grows each morning. This morning it is nearly the same intensity as Mars. At this low altitude – height above the horizon – and with the blush of morning twilight, the planet is easily visible, but it may not appear as bright as the Red Planet.
After this morning’s appearance, the planet rises over 90 minutes before sunup for the next two mornings. Thereafter, it begins to disappear into twilight again. In a week it has lost 16 minutes of rising time.
The bright Full moon is low in the west at this hour.
Mars is high in the southwest. Look fifteen to twenty minutes earlier to see it against a darker sky, but somewhat washed out by the bright moonlight that fills the sky.
Mars is marching eastward against Taurus. It approaches the Bull’s horns, Zeta Tauri and Elnath. This morning the Red Planet is 2.9° to the lower right of Zeta.
Moonlight washes out the fainter stars this morning. Possibly only Mars, Aldebaran and the brighter stars in the morning sky can be seen with this bright moon. A binocular is helpful to locate the dimmer stars, such as those in the Hyades star cluster and Pleiades star cluster, as well as Zeta and Elnath.
Mars passes between the horns in a week. The moon moves through in five mornings.
Venus is nearing its superior conjunction on the far side of its orbit and nearly behind the sun. This occurs on the 22nd. The planet becomes the Evening Star later during the year.
The bright moon continues to dominate the night. An hour after sunset, the lunar orb, 98% illuminated, is low in the eastern sky. During the night it appears farther west with Earth’s rotation.
Bright Jupiter, nearly 20° up in the east-southeast, is to the upper right of the moon. The Jovian Giant is the brightest star in the sky at this hour.
Saturn, nearly one-third of the way up in the sky above the south-southeastern horizon is nearly 45° to the upper right of Jupiter.
The moon is about one third of the way from Jupiter to Mars. The Red Planet rises over three hours after sundown. Around midnight, Mars, Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn are along an arc of the ecliptic from the eastern sky to the southwest.
Tomorrow evening the moon is near Uranus.
- 2023, October 20: Jupiter’s Double Shadows, Mercury at Superior ConjunctionOctober 20: After midnight, Jupiter’s moons’ shadows dance across the cloud tops. Mercury is at superior conjunction.
- 2023, October 19: Poured Moon, See Planet UranusOctober 19: Sagittarius seems to pour the moon into the sky this evening. Find Uranus with a binocular.
- 2023, October 18: Moon-Antares Conjunction, Bright PlanetsOctober 18, 2023: The moon is near Antares after sunset. Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the sky during the nighttime hours.
- 2023, October 17: Scorpion MoonOctober 17, 2023: The crescent moon is with Scorpius during evening twilight. Venus and Jupiter gleam from the predawn sky.
- 2023, October 16: Venus in Starry ConjunctionOctober 16, 2023: Venus passes a star in Leo before sunrise. A crescent moon is low in the western sky during evening twilight.