2022, November 6:  Autumn’s Midpoint, Daylight Time Ends, Planet Parade

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November 6, 2022: Autumn reaches its midpoint today. Set clocks back one hour.  The three bright outer planets – Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – are visible during the nighttime.

Photo Caption: Autumn Leaves

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:29 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:39 p.m. CST.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

The Great Red Spot’s transit times, when it is in the center of the planet in the southern hemisphere: 3:48 UT, 13:44 UT; 23:40 UT.  Convert time to your time zone. In the US, subtract five hours for EST, six hours for CST, and so on.  Use a telescope to see the spot.

Clocks revert to standard time today in the US and Canada.

Autumn is at its midpoint today at 8:24 a.m. CST. Daylight continues to slip away until the winter solstice, December 21 at 4:48 p.m. CST.  The season is 89 days, 20 hours, 40 minutes in length.

Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2022, November 6: Before daybreak, Mars is above the Bull’s horns in the western sky.

SUMMARY OF PLANETS IN 2022 MORNING SKY

At an hour before sunrise, Mars, nearly as bright as Sirius, is over halfway up in the west above the Bull’s horns.  It is 3.0° to the upper right of Zeta Tauri, the southern horn.

MARS OPPOSITION 2022 SUMMARY

The Red Planet is noticeably moving westward after it began to retrograde a week ago.  It passes Zeta tomorrow night. The planet moves between the horns on the 13th and passes Elnath, the northern horn, on the 18th.

Retrograde motion is an illusion from our faster-moving planet catching up to and moving between the sun and Mars.  Earth is between Mars and the sun on December 7th, known as opposition.

Chart Caption – 2022, November 6: Arcturus and Spica are in the eastern sky before sunrise.

At forty-five minutes before sunrise, topaz Arcturus and sapphire Spica are in the eastern sky.  Arcturus is nearly 20° up in the east, while Spica is less than 10° up in the east-southeast.

Mercury is nearing its superior conjunction on the 8th and entry in to the evening sky.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2022, November 6: Jupiter and the gibbous moon are in the eastern sky after sundown.

Venus continues its slow emergence from bright sunlight.  This evening it sets twelve minutes after the sun.

While Arcturus is in the eastern sky before sunrise, it remains visible in the west after sunset, over 5° up in the west-northwest at an hour after sundown.

At this hour, the bright moon, 98% illuminated, is about 20° up in the east.  The moonlight washes out dimmer starfields, but bright Jupiter is easily seen to the lunar orb’s upper right and about 30° up in the southeast.

Sky watchers with telescopes in the central US can see Jupiter’s Red Spot near the center of the planet at this hour, but the planet is low in the sky during twilight.  At this location, the atmosphere blurs the view and sometimes makes the planet dance in the eyepiece.  Observers farther eastward can see the planet higher in a clearer sky.

The bright moon illuminates the terrestrial landscape.  After human eyes adapt to the darkness, walking outside under this bright moonlight is easy. 

For an astronaut on the moon, Earth would show a thin crescent and the night slightly glowing from the mild moonlight that illuminates our ground.  While the moon is less reflective than our planet, Earth’s night portion would show some illumination.

Chart Caption – 2022, November 6: One hour after sunset, Saturn and Fomalhaut are in the southern sky.

Farther southward, dimmer Saturn is approaching the south cardinal point and is about the same altitude as Jupiter.  The Ringed Wonder is moving eastward in Capricornus, but the stars’ intensities are diminished by the bright moonlight.  Saturn is to the upper right of the star Fomalhaut – meaning “the mouth of the southern fish.”

Chart Caption – 2022, November 6: Four hours after sundown, Mars is in the east-northeast.

By four hours after sundown, Mars is nearly 20° up in the east-northeast.  With earlier sunsets, the nightly display of the three bright outer planets becomes visible earlier during the evening.  At this time, Jupiter is over halfway up in the south, with the bright gibbous moon to its upper left.  Saturn is about the same altitude – height above the horizon – as Mars, but Saturn is in the southwest.

The four bright objects, along with dimmer Neptune and Uranus, are hanging across the sky by an arc of the ecliptic, the solar system’s plane.

By tomorrow morning, Mars remains in the western sky.

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