2022, December 4: Nightly Planet Display, Support Sky Calendar


December 4, 2022: Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn put on a nightly display during the evening.  Support the Abrams Planetarium Sky Calendar.

Saturn in the Abrams Planetarium black light gallery
Saturn in the Abrams Planetarium black light gallery.



by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:02 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:20 p.m. CST.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.

Support the Abrams Planetarium Sky Calendar. Major sky events for each month are portrayed in a traditional calendar format. Daily panels or blended panels show the visibility of bright planets and the moon.  The publication includes an evening star map showing the prominent stars and planets.

Robert C. Victor, retired staff astronomer at the planetarium, originated the Abrams Planetarium monthly Sky Calendar in October 1968, and still produces issues occasionally, including the December 2022 issue. He enjoys being outdoors sharing the wonders of the night sky.  

Subscribe for $12.00 per year, starting anytime, from Sky Calendar, Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University, 755 Science Rd, East Lansing, MI 48824. To view a sample issue, visit www.abramsplanetarium.org/skycalendar/ 

Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2022, December 4: Mars is in the western sky before sunrise.

Bright Mars is lower in the west each morning. An hour before sunup, find it about 15° up in the west-northwest.  It is 6.3° below Elnath, the Bull’s northern horn, and 10.6° to the upper right of Aldebaran, Taurus’ brightest star, about 6° above the horizon.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2022, December: A Sky Calendar blended panel showing the moon and planets after sundown.

Venus and Mercury continue their slow crawl into the evening sky, setting after the sun.  Venus sets thirty-eight minutes after sunset and Mercury follows 10 minutes later.  For those wanting a view of the two planets, they begin to appear in the western sky in a few evenings during brighter evening twilight.

An hour after sundown, the bright gibbous moon, 90% illuminated is one-third of the way up in the east-southeast, nearly halfway from bright Jupiter to Mars that is low in the east-northeast. Saturn is one-third of the way up in the south-southwest.

The Sky Calendar panel above shows the moon compared to the starfield and the planets during several nights this month.  Tomorrow evening the moon and planet Uranus appear in the same binocular field of view.

At 2.5 hours after sundown, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn are nicely placed in the sky.  Jupiter is over halfway up in the south.  Saturn is in the southwest, about 20° above the horizon.  Mars is about the same height above the horizon as the Ringed Wonder, in the east.  The moon is higher than Mars, to the Red Planet’s upper right.

This planet display is occurring earlier each evening.  With Mercury and Venus soon entering a darker evening sky, look for the five bright planets in a simultaneous display with the moon beginning in 20 days.

At 8:52 p.m. CST, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is visible in the center of the planet in the southern hemisphere through a telescope.  The planet is in a favorable location to see the spot through telescopes across the Americas.  The spot is visible for about two hours during the planet’s rapid rotation for nearly an hour before and after the prime time.  The rotation brings the spot into view, crossing the center of the planet, and then disappearing around the other side.



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