November 22, 2022: The thin lunar crescent is visible in the east-southeast before daybreak. During the night Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is visible in the planet’s southern hemisphere.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:49 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:25 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: 7:01 UT, 16:56 UT; Nov 23, 2:52 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.
Mars watch: Mars is closest at 8:16 p.m. CST on November 30 (2:16 UT, December 1). The distance is 0.544 Astronomical Unit, also known as an AU, where one AU is about 93,000,000 miles. Before sunrise, the planet is 0.552 AU away. This evening, about four hours after sundown, the separation is 0.550 AU.
Here is today’s planet forecast:
An hour before sunup, bright Mars, more visually intense than Sirius, is one-third of the way up in the west. Two other bright reddish stars, Betelgeuse and Aldebaran, are nearby, although the Red Planet is the highest and the brightest.
The planet is retrograding in front of Taurus, below (west) of an imaginary line that connects the horns – Elnath and Zeta Tauri. The planet is moving faster after it began the retrograde illusion on October 30th.
As noted above, Mars is closest to Earth on the 30th and at opposition, Earth between the planet and the sun, on December 7th.
Mars is not closest on opposition night because it is moving toward its farthest point – aphelion. Earth and Mars are closest eight nights before opposition.
Fifteen minutes later, a whisker-thin moon, 3% illuminated, is less than 10° up in the east-southeast. The New moon phase occurs tomorrow at 4:57 p.m. CST.
This morning the crescent is over 15° to the lower left of Spica and 3.7° to the upper right of Zubenelgenubi, the Scorpion’s northern claw. The southern claw, Zubeneschamali, is 9.2° to the left of its pair.
The claws are part of today’s constellation Libra, but they retain their original names to indicate that they were once part of the celestial scorpion.
This is a little early to be calling for their first appearance without optical aid. Since Zubenelgenubi is within the same binocular field of view with this morning’s crescent, find a clear horizon and look for them.
The Scorpion slowly crawls across the horizon during the next several weeks. The entire constellation with the classic pincers does not fully appear before sunrise until late February.
Antares, the constellation’s brightest star, sets less than 10 minutes after the sun this evening. It is at its solar conjunction on December 1st, making its first morning appearance, heliacal rising, near the winter solstice.
At this hour look for Vega low in the northeast. It continues to appear in the western sky after sundown and makes its first morning appearance during late November each year.
Venus and Mercury are slowly entering the evening sky, but they are setting during bright twilight. Speedy Mercury passes 1.3° to the lower left of Venus today, but they are immersed in bright twilight and not visible easily with conventional practices. The closest planet to the sun is far south, setting only nineteen minutes after the sun and five minutes before Venus.
Saturn and bright Jupiter are easy to find after sundown. The Ringed Wonder is one-third of the way up in the southern sky, slightly west of the south cardinal point. It is slowly moving eastward compared to two stars in eastern Capricornus – Deneb Algedi and Nashira. Use a binocular to see the stars easier.
Jupiter is “that bright star” in the southeast as night falls. Even though it’s the largest planet, the Jovian Giant appears as a bright star to the unaided eye. Its retrograde ends in two nights, in front of a dim Pisces starfield.
The star Deneb Kaitos is below Jupiter, about halfway to the horizon. The star dots the tail of the sea monster, Cetus.
Fomalhaut, meaning “the mouth of the southern fish,” above the horizon in the south-southeast, is about half Saturn’s height above the horizon.
Before Jupiter moves too far eastward, after it resumes is normal eastward motion, look for Neptune. They are in the same binocular field of view. Neptune is dim, but make the observation during the next week before the moon’s phase brightens and washes out Neptune.
Jupiter reverses its direction on the 24th and slowly begins to move away from Neptune.
Mars rises an hour after sundown. By 3.5 hours after sundown, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are placed along the ecliptic. Jupiter is over halfway up in the south, while Saturn about 20° up in the southwest. Mars is the same height above the horizon in the east-northeast.
At 8:52 p.m. CST, Jupiter is in the south-southwest in Chicago. At this time the planet’s Great Red Spot is in the center of the planet in the southern hemisphere. A telescope is needed to see this detail in the Jovian atmosphere.
By tomorrow morning, Mars is the lone bright planet in the west before sunup.
- 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.
- 2023, October 16-22: Celestial Events for the WeekOctober 16-22, 2023: The moon returns to the evening sky. Venus steps eastward in front of Leo, and a meteor shower is visible.
- 2023, October 15: Three Bright PlanetsOctober 15, 2023: Brilliant Venus and Jupiter are visible before sunrise. Saturn is above the southeast horizon after sundown.