Morning Star Venus, bright Mars, and the constellation Orion shine from the skies this morning.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
With the bright moon in the sky, outside the frame of the image, Mars shines brightly from the dim stars of Pisces. The planet is slowly stepping eastward in the constellation, to the left in the photo.
Tomorrow evening (September 5) and the following morning, the bright moon appears near Mars
On September 9, the planet seems to reverse its direction and begins to move westward compared to the stars. This retrograde motion is an illusion as our faster moving planet approaches the Red Planet.
The chart above shows the motion of Mars compared to the stars during September.
Earth and Mars are closest on October 6. Earth passes between the sun and Mars on October 13. During the next month the planet continues to grow in brightness and apparent size through a telescope, although unlike what is shown in the social media memes.
Farther east, brilliant Morning Star Venus shines brightly from below Castor and Pollux, the Gemini Twins. This morning it moves into the dimmer stars of Cancer. In 10 days, the crescent moon joins Venus as it moves near the Beehive star cluster.
Orion rises in the southeast this morning. Its bright stars, Betelgeuse and Rigel, mark opposite corners of the famous star pattern. In the clear skies this morning, the Orion Nebula (M42 on the photo) stands out. (The short time exposure reveals some color that is not visible, even with a binocular.)
Here is a daily summary about the planets during September.
- 2023, December 19: A Scorpion Fumble, Moon MidwayDecember 19, 2023: Before sunrise, Venus appears below the Scorpion’s claws. After sundown, the moon is nearly midway from Saturn to Jupiter.
- 2023, December 18: Pinched VenusDecember 18, 2023: Look for Venus between the Scorpion’s claws in the southeast before sunrise. The thick crescent moon is in the evening sky with Jupiter and Saturn.
- 2023, December 17: Celestial PairsDecember 17, 2023: Before sunrise, Venus passes Zubenelgenubi, a planet-star conjunction. After sundown, Saturn and crescent moon are paired, a planet-moon conjunction.
- 2023, December 16: Venus Clawed, Evening Crescent Nears SaturnDecember 16, 2023: Before daybreak, Venus is above the Scorpion’s southern claw. After nightfall, the crescent moon nears Saturn.
- 2023, December 15: Brilliant Morning Star, Evening Lunar CrescentDecember 15, 2023: Before sunrise, brilliant Venus approaches Zubenelgenubi, the Scorpion’s southern claw. The crescent moon returns to the western evening sky.