August 23, 2022: A slender crescent moon appears with the Gemini Twins. Brilliant Venus and Sirius are in the eastern sky before sunrise. Jupiter and Saturn are in the eastern sky after night falls.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:07 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:39 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Regulus is at its solar conjunction today. It is the brightest star that is closest to the plane of the solar system. Because of this proximity, its first appearance in the morning sky from the mid-northern latitudes occurs about September 3rd. Venus passes the star on the 5th.
Daylight is approaching 13 hours, 30 minutes. The sun’s rising point is quickly moving southward along the eastern horizon. In less than a month, it loses another ninety minutes.
Here is the planet forecast for today:
A slender crescent moon, 14% illuminated, is near the Gemini Twins – Castor and Pollux. The crescent is about one-third of the way up in the east during morning twilight, 6.6° to the upper right of Pollux and 6.8° to the lower right of Castor.
Again, this morning, look for earthshine on the lunar night side. The view is improved with a binocular. Attempt to capture it with a tripod-mounted camera and exposures lasting up to a few seconds.
Procyon is between Venus and Sirius, and slightly higher above the eastern horizon. Sometimes, Procyon is nicknamed the Little Dog Star. It is the brightest star in Canis Minor. The star’s name means “before the dog,” because it rises just before Canis Major and its main star Sirius.
Venus is slowly slipping into brighter morning twilight. This morning it rises only 83 minutes before daybreak. It is losing two to three minutes of rising time each morning.
Higher in the sky, Mars is nearly two-thirds of the way up in the southeast. It is marching eastward through Taurus. This morning it is 5.7° below Alcyone – also known as Eta Tauri – the brightest star in the Pleiades star cluster. Track Mars’ progress on this star map. Plot is place with the stars each clear night.
Mars is moving toward conjunction with Aldebaran, the pattern’s brightest star. This conjunction occurs on September 7th. In a week, the Red Planet passes between Alcyone and Aldebaran.
Through a binocular find Mars with the Pleiades and the star 37 Tauri (37 Tau on the chart). This morning Mars is 3.3° to the lower right of this star. Mars passes 2.6° to the lower right of it on the 27th.
The third morning planet is bright Jupiter. Find it about halfway up in the southwest. It is dimmer than Venus, but brighter than Sirius. It is retrograding in Cetus, passing back into Pisces next month.
The Sea Monster’s tail, Deneb Kaitos, is to the lower left of Jupiter, less than halfway to the horizon.
With Saturn’s departure from the morning sky at this hour, leaving Mars and Jupiter with Venus, the next departure is Jupiter. This morning, the gap from Venus to Jupiter is nearly 127°. On October 1, the gap grows to 180°. Venus leaves the morning sky near October’s closing, leaving Mars as the only bright morning planet.
The planet parade re-forms in the evening near year’s end with five planets visible to the east of the sunset point in this order: Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars.
Saturn is rising before sunset. An hour after sundown, it is nearly 15° up in the southeast.
As night falls at this season look westward for Arcturus and Spica. Topaz Arcturus, the brightest star in the northern half of the sky, is less than halfway up in the west as the summer season leans toward its closing. Sapphire Spica is about 10° up in the west-southwest.
Spica is 2.0° south of the ecliptic. The sun seems to pass by on October 17. By early November, the star is low in the east-southeast before sunrise. The crescent moon passes by on November 21.
In comparison, Arcturus is farther north and stays in the evening sky longer. Its last appearance in the evening sky is mid-November, but by then it is already appearing before daybreak. Its first morning appearance is during the final week of October, but it still appears in the evening sky after sunset
This evening about two hours after sunset, Jupiter is low in the eastern sky as the planet parade slowly makes its way westward for an evening exhibition.
Saturn is retrograding in Capricornus near the stars Deneb Algedi – meaning “the kid’s tail” – and Nashira. It is less than one-third of the way up in the southeast, to the upper right of bright Jupiter.
Through a binocular, find the Ringed Wonder with the two named stars, as well as Iota Capricorni (ι Cap on the chart). Saturn is slowly moving away from the two stars toward Iota. During the next several weeks watch Saturn slowly move toward that star. It moves to within 0.5° of Iota before it reverses its track and heads eastward again.
Saturn is in the sky nearly all night, setting about 45 minutes before daybreak. By the time Venus appears a few degrees above the horizon, Saturn is already in the thicker atmosphere near the west-southwest horizon, that makes in invisible to the unaided eye. This effect also makes the sun appear orange and dimmer than when it is higher in the sky.
- 2023, October 20: Jupiter’s Double Shadows, Mercury at Superior ConjunctionOctober 20: After midnight, Jupiter’s moons’ shadows dance across the cloud tops. Mercury is at superior conjunction.
- 2023, October 19: Poured Moon, See Planet UranusOctober 19: Sagittarius seems to pour the moon into the sky this evening. Find Uranus with a binocular.
- 2023, October 18: Moon-Antares Conjunction, Bright PlanetsOctober 18, 2023: The moon is near Antares after sunset. Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the sky during the nighttime hours.
- 2023, October 17: Scorpion MoonOctober 17, 2023: The crescent moon is with Scorpius during evening twilight. Venus and Jupiter gleam from the predawn sky.
- 2023, October 16: Venus in Starry ConjunctionOctober 16, 2023: Venus passes a star in Leo before sunrise. A crescent moon is low in the western sky during evening twilight.