November 16, 2022: Before sunrise, the moon is near the Sickle of Leo. During the early evening, the three bright outer planets – Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – are visible along an arc across the sky.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:42 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:29 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: 2:05 UT, 12:01 UT, 21:56 UT; Nov. 17, 7:52 UT. Convert the 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.
Here is today’s planet forecast:
The moon, 51% illuminated and at its Last Quarter phase at 7:27 a.m., is over two-thirds of the way up in the sky. It is near the Sickle of Leo and 8.0° to the upper right of Regulus, at the bottom of the sickle’s handle.
Leo is a westward-facing lion that somewhat resembles its namesake. The sickle outlines the head, while the haunches are dotted by a triangle with Denebola – the tail – on the east end.
The star above Regulus is named Eta Leonis (η Leo). Later today, the moon covers or occults Eta for sky watchers in Asia. See this source for specific information.
Bright Mars is farther westward, less than halfway up in the west, nearly between the Bull’s horns – Elnath and Zeta Tauri.
The Red planet is retrograding in front of the stars of Taurus. This illusion started October 30th and continues until nearly mid-January 2023.
Earth is quickly catching up to Mars, passing between the sun and the planet on December 7th. As our planet moves between the two, the line of sight from Earth – that normally moves eastward against the stars – shifts westward, causing the planet to appear to backup or move westward.
Topaz Arcturus and Sapphire Spica continue to appear higher each morning in the eastern sky. Arcturus is nearly one-third of the way up in the east, while Spica is lower in the east-southeast. Arcturus is becoming more difficult to see in the evening sky.
Vega is the next bright star to appear in the morning sky. Like Arcturus, Vega is far enough north to make its first morning appearance while still shining in the west after sundown.
Stars farther southward, for northern hemisphere sky watchers, disappear in the west, appear during the daytime – but are outshined by the sun, and then make their first morning appearances.
Sky watchers in the southern hemisphere see the opposite. Arcturus and Vega disappear into evening twilight and then reappear in the morning sky. For them, Sirius appears in the evening sky when it appears in the morning sky.
Venus and Mercury are slowly appearing in the west after sundown. Mercury sets nine minutes after sunset. Venus follows eleven minutes later.
As the sky darkens, bright Jupiter is in the southeast. Its retrograde ends in about a week against a dim Pisces starfield.
The star Deneb Kaitos – the tail of the sea monster – is below the Jovian Giant. It is about one-third of the way from the horizon to the star.
Dimmer Saturn is nearly south, moving eastward near Nashira and Deneb Algedi in eastern Capricornus.
Look for the star Fomalhaut – the mouth of southern fish – low in the southeast.
Frequent readers and podcast listeners may notice that there are many Denebs in the sky. This morning, the Lion’s Tail – Denebola – was mentioned. Deneb Kaitos and Deneb Algedi – other tails on constellations – are in the evening sky.
Mars rises about two hours after sundown. Two hours later, it is about 20° up in the east-northeast. Jupiter is in the south and Saturn is low in the southwest, at about the same altitude as Mars.
These bright outer planets arc across the sky from east-northeast to southwest. These three planets appear in this configuration earlier each week. Near year’s end Venus and Mercury join them after sundown, forming a display of five bright planets. Dimmer Neptune and Uranus are along the arc as well. The moon joins them December 24th-28th before Mercury exits the western sky. Standing on Earth, the seven other planets of the modern solar system model are seen across the sky.
- 2023, December 24: Morning Moon, Pleiades, Antares Helical RisingDecember 24, 2023: The moon appears near the Pleiades star cluster during the earlier morning hours. Antares is at its first morning appearance, known as the heliacal rising.
- 2023, December 23: Check out Planet Uranus, Pleiades near MoonDecember 23, 2023: Look for the planet Uranus and the Pleiades star cluster through a binocular during nighttime hours.
- 2023, December 22: Mercury at Inferior Conjunction, Bright Jupiter, Gibbous MoonDecember 22, 2023: Mercury is between Earth and Sun, known as inferior conjunction. Jupiter and the gibbous moon are celestial companions during nighttime hours.
- 2023, December 21: Winter Solstice, Great Conjunction Plus 3 YearsDecember 21, 2023: Winter begins in the northern hemisphere. Jupiter and Saturn are visible in the evening sky three years after their Great Conjunction.
- 2023, December 20: Morning Star, Evening Moon Nears JupiterDecember 20, 2023: Brilliant Venus is in the southeast before daybreak. After nightfall the gibbous moon nears Jupiter in the southeast sky.