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April 1, 2023

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Early 2022 brings celestial treats

Planets, asteroid will be on view if conditions right


Let’s look forward to a few of the most wondrous astronomical events in early 2022, shall we?

According to John Jardine Goss at EarthSky, a few celestial treats are in store for us.

The first to watch out for will be on the evenings of today, Tuesday and Wednesday, when a young waxing moon will pass four planets: Venus, Mercury, Saturn and Jupiter. You might need binoculars today because Venus and Mercury may be hard to see in the sunset’s glare, but Saturn and Jupiter should be visible to the naked eye — weather permitting — on Tuesday and Wednesday.

At the end of the month, we’ll have another chance to see the moon in a nice lineup.

It will be in a line with Mars and Venus on the morning of Jan. 29.

When you look up, Mars will be almost as far from Earth as it can be while Venus will be almost at its closest.

“Binocular users with dark skies will see a bonus feature, the subtle glow of the star-forming nebula M8, forming a triangle with the moon and Mars,” writes Goss.

We’ll have a chance to see Venus, Mars and Mercury, our three closest solar system neighbors, in the morning about 40 minutes before sunrise on Feb. 11 to 16.

Now, this next one requires binoculars. There will be a chance to see the asteroid Vesta between Venus and Mars on Feb. 27, Goss writes.

“The waning crescent moon forms a line with Mars and Venus 60 minutes before sunrise on February 27, 2022. Unseen to stargazers, the asteroid Vesta Iurks stealthfully nearby … You’ll need binoculars or a small telescope, away from city lights, to spot Vesta.”