2022, December 30: Sirius Highest at Midnight, Evening Planets, Moon


December 30, 2022: The night’s brightest star, Sirius, is in the south at midnight as the year ends.  The bright planet evening display continues as Mercury disappears into bright twilight.

The constellation Orion rises into view during the early evening hours of February each year.
Photo Caption – The constellation Orion rises into view during the early evening hours of February each year. Sirius is to the lower left of the constellation.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:18 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:29 p.m. CST.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.  Times are calculated from the U.S. Naval Observatory’s MICA computer program.

Sunrise is at its latest time.  This continues through January 10th

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot’s transit times, when it is in the center of the planet in the southern hemisphere: 8:35 UT, 18:31 UT; Dec. 31, 4:27. 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.  Times are from Sky & Telescope magazine.

Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – Early Winter: Sirius is in the southern sky at midnight.

As the calendar turns over to today’s date, a bright congregation of stars is in the southern sky.  The night’s brightest star, Sirius, is south at the midnight hour.  The star rises in the east-southeast 2.5 hours after sundown, appears in the south at midnight, and sets in the west-southwest over two hours before sunup.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2022, December 30: At 45 minutes after sundown, Venus, Mercury, and Saturn are in the southwestern sky.

Mercury is retreating back into bright evening twilight and dimming as it moves toward its inferior conjunction – between Earth and the sun – on January 7th.

At forty-five minutes after sundown, find Mercury with a binocular 2.7° to the lower right of brilliant Venus that is about 5° up in the southwest.  Speedy Mercury is dimming and tonight it is about the brightness of Saturn.

The Ringed Wonder is over 25° to the upper left of the Evening Star.  Each evening, Saturn is lower in the southwest and Venus is higher.  Venus passes Saturn on January 22nd.  Each evening, watch Venus close in on Saturn.

As Mercury moves from the evening sky to a morning view, four bright planets are visible after sunset until early February.

Chart Caption – 2022, December 30: During evening twilight, bright Jupiter and the gibbous moon are in the southern sky.

This evening the moon, 60% illuminated, is over halfway up in the south-southeast sky and nearly 20° to the upper left of bright Jupiter.

Chart Caption – 2022, December 30: Forty-five minutes after sunset, Mars is in the east near Aldebaran. Betelgeuse is above the horizon.

Bright Mars is over one-third of the way up in the eastern sky and to the upper right of Aldebaran, Taurus’ brightest star.

Look for Betelgeuse near the horizon.  It rises at sunset in a few evenings.

Chart Caption – 2022, December 30: Through a binocular, Saturn makes a triangle with Nashira and Deneb Algedi.

As the sky darkens further, look at Saturn through a binocular and note its position compared to the stars in eastern Capricornus.   The planet forms a nice triangle with Nashira and Deneb Algedi.  It is passing Nashira.  This evening’s gap is 1.3°. Each clear evening watch Saturn move eastward compared to the starry backdrop.  The Ringed Wonder passes Deneb Algedi on January 14th.

Chart Caption – 2022, December 30: Two hours after sundown, Mars appears in front of Taurus, 8.3° to the upper left of Aldebaran.

After the end of evening twilight, Mars is higher in the eastern sky.  It is 8.3° to the upper left of Aldebaran.  The Red Planet continues the illusion of retrograde until January 12th, passing the star again in the third conjunction of a triple conjunction series on January 30th.  Look for the moon near Mars on January 3rd.



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