October 23, 2022: Saturn’s retrograde or westward trek ends today in front of the stars of eastern Capricornus. Mercury departs the sky after its best morning appearance of the year.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:12 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 5:57 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Saturn’s retrograde ends tonight. The planet stops its westward motion. Because it seems to move so slowly, it won’t appear to move eastward very far during the next week. Earth has moved far enough so that the line of sight from our world to Saturn stops moving westward and begins to go eastward again.
The planet’s retrograde ends about 0.5° to the east of Iota Capricorni (ι Cap on the chart). Sky watchers away from bright street lights should be able to see the star as well as Deneb Algedi and Nashira. In urban and suburban settings, use a binocular to see Saturn with the starfield.
After sundown, find the Ringed Wonder in the south-southeast.
Here is today’s planet forecast:
Bright Mars is high in the southwestern sky before sunrise. Look about an hour before the sun appears. The Red Planet is above an imaginary line that connects the Bull’s horns – Elnath and Zeta Tauri.
The planet slows before reversing its direction in a week, beginning to retrograde. Unlike slowpoke Saturn, Mars’ motion is obvious without a binocular, after it seems to pause.
The planet passes between the horns again on November 13th. It continues to brighten, exceeding Sirius’ intensity from mid-October through mid-December. Mars does not grow brighter than Jupiter.
At this hour, the crescent moon, 4% illuminated, is over 10° above the eastern horizon. Twenty minutes later the moon is slightly higher in the brighter sky. Bright Mercury is near the horizon, 13.0° to the lower left of the lunar crescent, too far apart to fit the same binocular field.
Although the planet is brighter than Mars, it is low in the sky and a challenge to see. It becomes more difficult to see until it reappears in the evening sky later during December. So, for this appearance, we say “Goodbye, Mercury!”
At this time, Arcturus is less than 10° up in the east-northeast.
Bright Jupiter and Saturn are in the southeastern sky after sundown. Jupiter is “that bright star” in the east-southeast as night falls. It is retrograding against a very dim starfield in Pisces. This continues into November.
Saturn is to the upper right of Jupiter, about one-third of the way up in the south-southeast. As noted above, its retrograde ends in front of eastern Capricornus.
During the night, the planets and stars seem to move westward from Earth’s rotation. The Ringed Wonder is in the south about two hours after sundown. Jupiter is south and highest in the sky about five hours after sunset and before midnight. At this time, Mars is in the east-northeast and Saturn is in the southwest – along a long arc that hangs three bright planets.
During the night Saturn sets six hours before sunrise and Jupiter follows about two hours before sunrise, leaving Mars high in the southwest during morning twilight.
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- 2023, October 11: Morning Earthshine, LeoOctober 11, 2023: The morning’s thin lunar crescent displays earthshine as it appears near the constellation Leo.
- 2023, October 10: Morning Venus-Moon-Regulus Gathering, Venus-Saturn OppositionOctober 10, 2023: This morning Venus, the crescent moon, and Regulus gather in the eastern sky for a beautiful celestial display. Venus and Saturn are at opposition today.
- 2023, October 9: Venus-Regulus Conjunction, Morning Crescent MoonOctober 9, 2023: The Venus-Regulus conjunction occurs this morning. The morning crescent moon is above Venus during twilight.
- 2023, October 8: Celestial Barnyard, Convergence at RegulusOctober 8, 2023: The moon is visible with a celestial barnyard during morning twilight. Venus and the lunar crescent head for a celestial gathering in two mornings.