December 30, 2022: The brightest star at night, Sirius, is in the south at midnight at the end of the year. The bright planet’s nighttime display continues as Mercury disappears into a luminous twilight.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, IL: Sunrise, 7:18 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:29 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location. The times are calculated from the MICA computer program of the US Naval Observatory.
Sunrise is at its latest time. This continues until January 10e.
Transit time of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, when it is at the center of the planet in the southern hemisphere: 8:35 UT, 6:31 UT; December 31, 4:27 a.m. Convert the time to your time zone. In the US, subtract five hours for EST, six hours for CST, etc. Use a telescope to see the place. The hours are from Sky & Telescope magazine.
Here is today’s planetary forecast:
As the calendar returns to today’s date, a brilliant congregation of stars sits in the southern sky. The night’s brightest star, Sirius, is in the south at midnight. The star rises in the east-southeast 2.5 hours after sunset, appears in the south at midnight, and sets in the west-southwest more than two hours before sunrise.
Mercury retreats into the bright evening twilight and darkens as it moves to its lower conjunction – between Earth and the Sun – on January 7e.
Forty-five minutes after sunset, find Mercury with a twin 2.7° lower right of bright Venus which is about 5° southwest. Speedy Mercury is darkening and tonight is Saturn’s brightness.
The Ringed Wonder is more than 25° to the top left of the Evening Star. Every evening, Saturn is lower in the southwest and Venus is higher. Venus passes Saturn on January 22n/a. Every evening, watch Venus move closer to Saturn.
As Mercury shifts from the evening sky to a morning view, four bright planets are visible after sunset until early February.
Tonight, the moon, 60% illuminated, is more than halfway up the sky south-southeast and nearly 20° to the upper left of bright Jupiter.
Bright Mars is more than a third of the way up in the eastern sky and to the upper right of Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus.
Look for Betelgeuse near the horizon. It rises at sunset in a few evenings.
As the sky darkens further, look at Saturn through binoculars and note its position relative to the stars in eastern Capricorn. The planet forms a nice triangle with Nashira and Deneb Algedi. He passes Nashira. Tonight’s difference is 1.3°. On each clear evening, watch Saturn move eastward against the starry backdrop. The Ringed Wonder passes Deneb Algedi on January 14e.
After the end of evening twilight, Mars is higher in the eastern sky. It is 8.3° at the top left of Aldebaran. The red planet continues the retrograde illusion until January 12, passing the star again in the third conjunction of a series of triple conjunctions on January 30.e. Look for the moon near Mars on January 3rd.
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