Observing the planets in 2022, month by month

Our month-by-month guide to locating the planets throughout 2022

Friends stargazing. Credit: EvgeniyShkolenko / Getty
Published: November 30, 2021 at 2:17 pm
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Finding and observing the planets of the Solar System in the night sky isn't as tricky as you think. You just need to know where to look.

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When a planet is in a particularly favourable position in the evening or morning sky, it will look like a bright 'star', the most obvious point of light visible to the naked eye.

The other thing about spotting the planets in the night sky is that they can also be found along the ecliptic, which is the imaginary line that the Sun appears to traverse in the sky over the course of a day.

A panorama showing the Milky Way (centre) and planets. Mars is bright to the left, Saturn is dimmer and bright Jupiter is right. The arcing line joining the planets defines the arc of the ecliptic. Credit: Alan Dyer / Stocktrek Images / Getty Images
A panorama showing the Milky Way (centre) and planets. Mars is bright to the left, Saturn is dimmer and bright Jupiter is right. The arcing line joining the planets defines the arc of the ecliptic. Credit: Alan Dyer / Stocktrek Images / Getty Images

Since the major planets of the Solar System orbit the Sun in about the same plane, the ecliptic also marks the path of the planets.

Is it bright, but on the wrong side of the sky to the ecliptic? Then it's not a planet.

For more advice, read our guide on how to find planets in the night sky.

Once you've got to grips with this, all you need to know is what planets will be visible in the night each month, so you know what to look out for, and what dates they will be best placed.

This is where our guide below comes in. Use it throughout the coming 12 months to find out which planets are visible in the night sky in 2022, which are at opposition, and to keep track of any interesting upcoming conjunctions.

Check our Astronomy Advice section throughout the year for more up-to-date stargazing tips, and sign up to the BBC Sky at Night Magazine e-newsletter for lunar phases and monthly astronomy highlights delivered direct to your email inbox.

You can also listen to our Star Diary podcast each month for even more advice on what to see in the night sky.

Jupiter (the bright spot in the centre) appears near Saturn (8 o'clock of Jupiter) against the backdrop of the Milky Way, Pune, India, 5 May 2019. On 21 December 2020 the two planets will appear much closer in the night sky. Credit: Pratham Gokhale/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Jupiter (the bright spot in the centre) appears near Saturn (8 o'clock of Jupiter) against the backdrop of the Milky Way, Pune, India, 5 May 2019. Credit: Pratham Gokhale/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Observing planets in 2022: month-by-month

December 2021

Mercury Evening planet, poorly positioned at the start of December. Near to Venus at the end of the month.

Venus Low evening planet. Appears near Mercury at end of December and a waxing crescent Moon on 6 and 7 December.

Mars Morning planet, with thin crescent Moon nearby on 3 December. 4.6º north of Antares on 26 December.

A bright waxing gibbous Moon interferes for much, but not all, of the two nights that the peak period of the Geminid meteor shower falls on in 2021. Credit: Pete Lawrence
A bright waxing gibbous Moon interferes for much, but not all, of the two nights that the peak period of the Geminid meteor shower falls on in 2021. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Jupiter Evening planet, unable to reach its highest altitude in darkness any more. Moon close on 8 and 9 December.

Saturn Compromised by the evening twilight. Waxing crescent Moon nearby on 7 and 8 December.

Uranus Well-positioned evening planet, 25 arcminutes south-southeast of 29 Arietis on 29 December.

Neptune Well placed at the start of December, but rapidly succumbs to the evening twilight as the month progresses.

January 2022

Mercury: Evening planet, best in first half of January. Near Venus on 1 Jan, and Saturn 14 Jan.

Venus: Inferior conjunction on 9 Jan, thereafter a morning object, blazing at mag. -4.5 at the end of the month.

Mars: Morning planet, slowly brightening. Rises nearly two hours before the Sun for much of January.

This year’s Quadrantid peak is well timed with the Moon being new on 2 January. Credit: Pete Lawrence
This year’s Quadrantid peak is well timed with the Moon being new on 2 January. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Jupiter: Bright evening planet, best at the start of January. Waxing crescent Moon nearby on 5 and 6 Jan.

Saturn: Evening planet. Near Mercury mid-month. Lost after 20 Jan.

Uranus: Dim evening planet, best seen at the start of the month.

Neptune: Evening planet, deteriorating in visibility throughout January.

February 2022

Mercury: Dim morning object, not well placed. Best seen just before mid-month.

Venus: Bright morning planet, rising over two hours before sunrise. Near Mars at end of February.

Mars: Brightening morning object, near Venus towards the end of February.

Minor planet 20 Massalia reaches opposition on 20 February, when it can be seen shining east of the Beehive cluster, M44, at mag. +8.5. Credit: Pete Lawrence
Minor planet 20 Massalia reaches opposition on 20 February, when it can be seen shining east of the Beehive cluster, M44, at mag. +8.5. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Jupiter: Bright evening planet, rapidly lost to the twilight during the month.

Saturn: Saturn lines up with the Sun in the sky on 4 Feb and is unlikely to be seen this month.

Uranus: Mag. +5.8 Uranus loses altitude during February but remains a viable target.

Neptune: The evening twilight catches up with Neptune this month, the planet is lost from view.

March 2022

Mercury: Morning planet, poorly placed throughout the month.

Venus: Bright morning planet, 50% phase around 20 March. Near Mars and Saturn at end of March.

Mars: Morning object, slowly brightening. Sits close to Saturn and Venus at end of month.

Comet 19P/Borrelly is a viable target for small telescopes in March 2022, shining brighter than 10th magnitude. Credit: Pete Lawrence
Comet 19P/Borrelly is a viable target for small telescopes in March 2022, shining brighter than 10th magnitude. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Jupiter: Solar conjunction on 5 March; thereafter Jupiter not visible for the rest of the month.

Saturn: Poorly positioned morning planet. Near Venus and Mars at end of March. Crescent Moon nearby on 28 March.

Uranus: Best at the start of March. Currently in southern Aries, lost by end of the month.

Neptune: Neptune in conjunction with the Sun on 13 March and not visible this month.

April 2022

Mercury: Impressive in evening, sets over 2 hours after sunset by end of April.

Venus: Bright morning planet, low before sunrise. Near Mars and Saturn at start of month, close to Jupiter at end.

Mars: Morning planet. 19 arcminutes from Saturn on 5 April. Rises 90 minutes before sunrise at end of April.

Mercury sets approximately two hours after the Sun at the end of April, a time when it will appear near to the Pleiades open cluster. Credit: Pete Lawrence
Mercury sets approximately two hours after the Sun at the end of April, a time when it will appear near to the Pleiades open cluster. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Jupiter: On 30 April, morning planets Jupiter and Venus appear 40 arcminutes apart, rising one hour before sunrise.

Saturn: Morning object, never gaining much height. Mars is 19 arcminutes away on morning of 5 April.

Uranus: Evening planet, just visible at start of April, then rapidly lost. Crescent Moon close on 3 April.

Neptune: Morning planet, but not viable for observation this month.

Venus has a spectacular morning conjunction with Jupiter at the end of April and into early May. Visible in the morning sky approximately 30-45 minutes before sunrise. Closest apparent separation of 22’ 43” occurs on 1 May. Credit: Pete Lawrence
Venus has a spectacular morning conjunction with Jupiter at the end of April and into early May. Visible in the morning sky approximately 30-45 minutes before sunrise. Closest apparent separation of 22’ 43” occurs on 1 May. Credit: Pete Lawrence

May 2022

Mercury: Impressive evening planet at start of May, near the Pleiades.

Venus: Morning planet, near Jupiter on 1 May. 10%-lit waning crescent Moon nearby on 27 May.

Mars: Morning planet. Close encounter with Jupiter at end of May.

Watch out for a total lunar eclipse on 16 May. This will be a challenging target because the Moon sets during totality. Credit: Pete Lawrence
Watch out for a total lunar eclipse on 16 May. This will be a challenging target because the Moon sets during totality. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Jupiter: Morning planet, near Venus on 1 May and Mars on 29 May. Waning Moon nearby on 25 May.

Saturn: Low altitude morning object. Waning gibbous Moon on 22 May.

Uranus: Uranus lines up with the Sun on 5 May and not visible this month.

Neptune: Neptune is a morning planet, but not visible this month.

June 2022

Mercury: Best at end of month at mag. -0.6, rising 70 minutes before Sun.

Venus: Morning object. 7% waning crescent Moon nearby on morning of 26 June.

Mars: Appearing close to Jupiter at the start of June.

Noctilucent clouds, Hannah Rochford, Gower, Swansea, 4 June 2021. Equipment: Canon 5D MkII DSLR, Sigma 150–600mm lens
Keep an eye out for noctilucent clouds. This NLC display was captured by Hannah Rochford, Gower, Swansea, 4 June 2021. Equipment: Canon 5D MkII DSLR, Sigma 150–600mm lens

Jupiter: Morning planet, near Mars at the start of June. Last quarter Moon nearby on 21 June.

Saturn: Morning planet. Waning gibbous Moon nearby on the mornings of 18 and 19 June.

Uranus: Morning planet Uranus is not visible this month.

Neptune: Neptune is a morning planet, but not visible this month.

July 2022

Mercury: Low morning planet early July and low evening planet at the end of the month. Tricky to see.

Venus: Morning planet rising nearly two hours before sunrise. Thin crescent Moon nearby on 26 and 27 July.

Mars: Brightening morning planet. Close to Uranus at the end of July.

There's a great opportunity to spot bright morning planet Venus near a thin Moon on 26 and 27 July 2022. View approximately 80 minutes before sunrise. Moon’s size exaggerated for clarity. Credit: Pete Lawrence
There's a great opportunity to spot bright morning planet Venus near a thin Moon on 26 and 27 July 2022. View approximately 80 minutes before sunrise. Moon’s size exaggerated for clarity. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Jupiter: Bright morning object in Cetus, the Whale, improving throughout the month. Waning gibbous Moon close on 19 July.

Saturn: Improving morning planet. Bright gibbous Moon nearby on 15/16 July.

Uranus: Morning planet, improving through July. Mars very close at the end of the month.

Neptune: Neptune is best seen at the end of the month, south of the Circlet asterism in Pisces.

August 2022

Mercury: Eastern elongation on 27 August (27.3o from the Sun) but poorly placed for UK viewing.

Venus: Bright morning planet. Waning crescent Moon nearby on 25 and 26 August.

Mars: Bright morning planet. Near Uranus at the start of August and the Pleiades on 18 August.

Uranus (mag. +5.8) and Mars (mag. +0.2) appear separated by 1.3° on the morning of 2 August 2022. The view here simulates the view through 7x50 binoculars at 02:00 BST. Credit: Pete Lawrence
Uranus (mag. +5.8) and Mars (mag. +0.2) appear separated by 1.3° on the morning of 2 August 2022. The view here simulates the view through 7x50 binoculars at 02:00 BST. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Jupiter: Bright morning planet, reaching 40o altitude in dark skies from mid-month. Waning gibbous Moon near on 15 August.

Saturn: Opposition on 14 August. From the centre of the UK, Saturn reaches an altitude of 21o.

Uranus: Morning planet, becoming well placed towards the end of August. Mars nearby at the start of the month.

Neptune: Morning planet reaching an altitude of over 30o in true darkness from mid-August.

September 2022

Mercury: Poor at start of month but improves toward the end of September in the morning sky.

Venus: Morning planet. Ultra-thin waning crescent Moon close on 25 September.

Mars: Brightening planet in Taurus. Appears 11 arcseconds across at the end of September.

Spot a 0.6%-lit waning crescent Moon pre-sunrise on 25 September 2022. Warning: Only attempt to find Venus and the Moon when the Sun is below the horizon. This view simulates the view low above the east horizon through 7x50 binoculars, approximately 40 minutes before sunrise (Moon’s appearance exaggerated for clarity). Credit: Pete Lawrence
Spot a 0.6%-lit waning crescent Moon pre-sunrise on 25 September 2022. Warning: Only attempt to find Venus and the Moon when the Sun is below the horizon. This view simulates the view low above the east horizon through 7x50 binoculars, approximately 40 minutes before sunrise (Moon’s appearance exaggerated for clarity). Credit: Pete Lawrence

Jupiter: Opposition on 26 September. Attains a peak altitude of 37o from the centre of the UK.

Saturn: Well positioned planet. Bright waxing gibbous Moon nearby on evenings of 7 and 8 September.

Uranus: Lunar occultation on 14 September. Covered for 50 mins by 77%-lit waning gibbous Moon.

Neptune: Reaches opposition on 16 September, attaining highest altitude of 30o in true darkness.

October 2022

Mercury: Good morning appearance for most of October.

Venus: Bright morning planet, rises 40 minutes before sunrise at start of October, lost soon thereafter. Superior conjunction 22 October.

Mars: Rises around 21:30 BST at the start of October. Brightens throughout the month.

A partial eclipse of the Sun occurs mid-morning on 25 October 2022. Times correct for central UK, varying slightly in eclipse coverage and timing, depending on location. Never look directly at the Sun without eclipse glasses or certified solar filters on any optical equipment. Credit: Pete Lawrence
A partial eclipse of the Sun occurs mid-morning on 25 October 2022. Times correct for central UK, varying slightly in eclipse coverage and timing, depending on location. Never look directly at the Sun without eclipse glasses or certified solar filters on any optical equipment. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Jupiter: Bright and well placed. Almost full Moon nearby on evening of 8 October.

Saturn: Well positioned evening planet. Bright waxing gibbous Moon nearby on evening of 5 October.

Uranus: Well placed for viewing in southern Aries. Approaching opposition on 9 November.

Neptune: Well positioned binocular planet near Jupiter and below the Circlet asterism in Pisces.

November 2022

Mercury: Poorly placed morning planet at the start of November, poorly positioned evening planet at end.

Venus: Too close to the Sun in the evening sky to be seen safely.

Mars: Brilliant orange planet. Rises early evening, reaching 60o altitude in dark skies.

Magnitude -1.5 Mars and the Moon have a close encounter on the morning and evening of 11 November. This view simulates the view through 7x50 binoculars on 11 November, 05:30 UT. Credit: Pete Lawrence
Magnitude -1.5 Mars and the Moon have a close encounter on the morning and evening of 11 November. This view simulates the view through 7x50 binoculars on 11 November, 05:30 UT. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Jupiter: Bright evening planet. Waxing gibbous Moon near Jupiter on the night of 4/5 November.

Saturn: Well placed at the start of the month, losing altitude by the end. Waxing Moon nearby on 1 and 29 November.

Uranus: Reaches opposition on 9 November in southern Aries. Should be visible to naked eye.

Neptune: Well placed for observation. Mag. +7.9 Neptune and -2.5 Jupiter appear 6.2o apart mid-month.

December 2022

Mercury: Poor positioning at start of December, improving through the month, jostling with Venus in the evening twilight.

Venus: Evening planet. Near Mercury in the latter half of December, when it sets 70 minutes after sunset.

Mars: Bright planet reaching opposition 8 December. Occulted by the full Moon on the morning of 8 December.

There's an opportunity to observe a lunar occultation of Mars as it reaches opposition, 8 December 2022. Times correct for centre of UK and will vary up to a few minutes depending on location. Credit: Pete Lawrence
There's an opportunity to observe a lunar occultation of Mars as it reaches opposition, 8 December 2022. Times correct for centre of UK and will vary up to a few minutes depending on location. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Jupiter: Bright evening planet. Waxing Moon nearby on the evenings of 1 and 29 December.

Saturn: Evening planet but past its best. 15%-lit waxing crescent Moon nearby on the evening of 26 December.

Uranus: Well placed evening planet. Occulted by the almost full Moon on the afternoon of
5 December.

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Neptune: Best at the start of December. Jupiter lies 8° east at the end of December.

Authors

Pete Lawrence, astronomer and BBC The Sky at Night presenter.
Pete LawrenceAstronomer and presenter

Pete Lawrence is an experienced astronomer and astrophotographer, and a presenter on BBC's The Sky at Night.

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