Solar System Phenomena — 2022 Apparitions of the Inferior Planets from Latitude 50° North

What is an Apparition?

An apparition of a planet is the period during which it is visible, beginning and ending with solar conjunction. In the cases of the inferior planets Mercury and Venus, it is the time between inferior and superior conjunction (morning apparition) and the time between superior and inferior conjunction (evening apparition). Because inferior planets are always near the Sun, they only appear in the east before sunrise and the west after sunset.

Below are a series of diagrams showing the morning and evening apparitions of Mercury and Venus as observed from latitude 50° north. The planet is shown on the 1st, 6th, 11th, 16th, 21st and 26th days of each month with the current year's positions shown in bright white. The path may extend from the previous year or into the next.


Mercury undergoes several morning and evening apparitions every year. Morning apparitions occur between inferior conjunction (when the planet is at its dimmest) and superior conjunction (when the planet is at its brightest) whereas evening apparitions always start bright and end with the planet around sixth magnitude. This year, Mercury appears at dawn three times and at dusk four.

22 November2021superior conjunction
07 January2022greatest elongation east: 19.2°
23 Januaryinferior conjunction
16 Februarygreatest elongation west: 26.3°
02 Aprilsuperior conjunction
29 Aprilgreatest elongation east: 20.6°
21 Mayinferior conjunction
16 Junegreatest elongation west: 23.2°
16 Julysuperior conjunction
27 Augustgreatest elongation east: 27.3°
23 Septemberinferior conjunction
08 Octobergreatest elongation west: 18.0°
08 Novembersuperior conjunction: anti-transit
21 Decembergreatest elongation east: 20.1°
07 January2023inferior conjunction

The morning apparitions of Mercury in 2022 as seen from latitude 50° north.

Mercury makes its first morning appearance following the late January inferior conjunction (blue track) but it barely manages 9° in altitude before disappearing at the end of March. The next eastern apparition between late May and mid-July (pink track) is hardly any better, with the planet again just reaching a maximum height of 9.1°. The best chance of spotting this elusive object occurs during the apparition lasting from late September to early November (green track) when Mercury finally gets to a more easily observable altitude of 15.8° on 9 October.

The evening apparitions of Mercury in 2022 as seen from latitude 50° north.

Mercury's first appearance in 2022 (blue track) is in the west after sunset, finishing last year's final apparition. Starting at just over 9° in altitude, it rises up to nearly 12° above the horizon before disappearing late in the month. The April–May apparition (pink track) is the best evening appearance of Mercury for latitude 50° north, with the tiny planet soaring to an altitude of just over 17.6°. The following evening apparition in July, August and early September (green track) is the worst, with Mercury never getting more than 7° away from the horizon. Mercury makes one final appearance in the southwest at the end of the year (orange track), remaining very low throughout November before eventually climbing to nearly 10° in late December.


Venus spends nearly the entire year as the morning star.

26 March2021superior conjunction
29 Octobergreatest elongation east: 47.0°
09 January2022inferior conjunction
20 Marchgreatest elongation west: 46.6°
22 Octobersuperior conjunction
04 June2023greatest elongation east: 45.4°

The morning apparitions of Venus in 2022 as seen from latitude 50° north.

The 2022 morning apparition of Venus is very poor indeed, with the morning star struggling to reach even 17° at its highest.

The evening apparitions of Venus in 2022 as seen from latitude 50° north.

The evening star of last year's disappointing apparition carries on into 2022 (blue track) with Venus low in the southwest for the first few days of January. After spending most of the year in morning skies, Venus returns to the west in October (pink track) but remains very low, ending 2022 at an altitude of only 8.7°.


The dates, times and circumstances of all planetary and lunar phenomena were calculated from the JPL DE406 solar system ephemeris using the same rigorous methods that are employed in the compilation of publications such as The Astronomical Almanac.