Don’t miss! Planet-moon conjunction time this weekend

Conjunction time! This is the Northern Hemisphere view. The Southern Hemisphere view, below, is even better. The moon, brilliant Venus, and fainter Mars and Saturn all bunch together within an 8-degree circle on March 27 and 28, 2022. Chart via John Jardine Goss.

March 27 and 28 mornings

In the early morning skies on March 27 and 28, 2022, you can catch a waning crescent moon passing a trio of planets. The planets are close together in a series of conjunctions. Venus is the brightest planet, with two fainter planets near it, Saturn below and Mars to the west.

On Sunday morning, March 27, the moon will be approaching Mars on the sky’s dome. The moon that morning will be about the 25% illuminated, heading toward new moon on April 1.

But the view on March 28 is the real stunner. Then the moon, brilliant Venus, and fainter Mars and Saturn all bunch together within an 8-degree circle on the sky’s dome. Because it’s a waning moon, its phase will be even thinner than the morning before, only around 16% illuminated. The quartet makes for a beautiful photo op. And you get a great pic, submit it to us!

Note to telescope users: A faint comet, 22P/Headf, is also near the planets on March 27 and 28. But, at 11th magnitude, and with dawn rising, you’ll need your telescope to catch it, plus dark skies, and experience with seeing faint objects.

Conjunction time: Planets and moon

The planets are in conjunction with the waning moon these March mornings. Plus Venus and Saturn have a conjunction on March 29. At all of these conjunctions, at the times given below, the two objects have the same right ascension (like celestial longitude on an imaginary grid of sky surrounding Earth). Here are the details:

Mars is 4 degrees north of the moon at 3 UTC on March 28
Venus is 7 degrees north of the moon at 10 UTC on March 28.
Saturn is 4 degrees north of the moon at 12 UTC on March 28.
Venus is 2 degrees north of Saturn at 13 UTC on March 29.

The view from the Southern Hemisphere

The view is even better from the Southern Hemisphere, as the path of the ecliptic cuts at a steeper angle across the horizon. Not only will you see Venus, Mars and Saturn by the moon, you may even spot Jupiter before sunrise.

Venus, Mars and Saturn at top, Jupiter near horizon, moon at the right.
Morning sky on March 28 for skywatchers in the Southern Hemisphere. Lucky you! Because the ecliptic – or path of the sun, moon and planets in our sky – makes a steep angle with the dawn horizon on autumn mornings and the action takes place for you directly above the sunrise, rather than to one side as for people in the Northern Hemisphere. Chart via John Jardine Goss.

Bottom line: See the morning planets – Venus, Mars and Saturn – in conjunction, plus the moon which joins the view on March 27 and 28, 2022. In the Southern Hemisphere, you might see Jupiter as well.

Read: EarthSky’s night sky guide for March-April 2022


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