Mars and Saturn conjunction, April 4 and 5 mornings

Chart: Mars and 2 positions of Saturn on two different nights, Venus lower on the ecliptic.
On April 4 and 5, 2022, Mars and Saturn appear as next-door neighbors on the sky’s dome. Look in the sunrise direction before dawn for a very bright object. That’ll be Venus. Mars and Saturn are fainter, but noticeable for being close together. As seen from North America on the morning of April 4, Saturn is to the left of Mars. On April 5, Mars will be left of Saturn. Their conjunction falls between those 2 dates. Illustration via John Jardine Goss.

Mars and Saturn conjunction

Mars and Saturn have a beautiful conjunction on the mornings of April 4 and 5, 2022. Their actual conjunction – when the two objects have the same right ascension on the sky’s dome – happens at 22 UTC on April 4. That’s when Mars will swing 0.3 degrees south of Saturn. But that time is less important than the time you’ll see the pair. You’ll see them in the sunrise direction, shortly before the sun comes up. They’ll be near another much-more-dazzling planet, Venus.

Mars and Saturn look similar on the sky’s dome. Mars shines with a reddish light at magnitude 1.0. And Saturn shines with a golden light at nearly the same brightness, magnitude 0.9. The pair will be within about 1/2 degree of each other, or about a full moon’s distance apart, on the mornings of April 4 and 5.

Can you tell red Mars from golden Saturn? Does Mars look a hair brighter? Or does its reddish light mean that Saturn looks more prominent?

As seen from North America on the morning of April 4, Saturn will be on the left with Mars to the right and ever-so-slightly lower. On April 5, Mars will have moved to the lower left of Saturn, and the pair will be just a smidge closer together. Want the view from your precise location on the globe? Try Stellarium.

Remember the Jupiter and Saturn conjunction?

The April 4, 2022, conjunction of Mars and Saturn won’t be as close as the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on December 21, 2020. On that date, Saturn was just 6 arcminutes from Jupiter on the sky’s dome. Some media reported Saturn and Jupiter would “merge” on that date. But they didn’t. They stayed separate, each shining as a steady, bright beacon. At the time, Jupiter shone at magnitude -2 and Saturn was magnitude 0.6. So Jupiter greatly outshone Saturn.

Now, more than a year later, Jupiter is some distance from Saturn on the sky’s dome, just now beginning to emerge into the dawn sky. And Mars and Saturn have their conjunction as two near-equals.

By late March and early April: Jupiter emerging from dawn

Chart: Green line of ecliptic with dots for Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter next to horizon in dawn light.
Bright Jupiter might have poked above your eastern horizon shortly before sunrise in late March. If not … Jupiter will return in earnest in April!

Bottom line: Mars and Saturn come together in a conjunction on April 4, 2022. On the mornings of April 4 and 5, the two planets will appear separated only by the width of a full moon on the sky’s dome.

Visit EarthSky’s night sky guide for more about planets in April 2022

April 3, 2022

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Kelly Kizer Whitt

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