October 29, 2022: Arcturus appears higher in the east-northeast before sunrise. Spica arrives in the east-southeast soon. The moon is with Sagittarius and its Teapot.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:20 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 5:49 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
The Great Red Spot’s transit times, when it is in the center of the planet in the southern hemisphere: 7:06 UT, 17:01 UT. Convert time to your time zone. In the US, subtract four hours for EDT, five hours for CDT, and so on. Use a telescope to see the spot.
Here is today’s planet forecast:
As noted above for very early rises and night owls, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is in the center of the planet in the southern hemisphere at 2:06 a.m. CDT. The planet is over 20° up in the west-southwest at this time.
An hour before sunrise, the Big Dipper stands on its handle in the northeastern sky. The curve of its handle points toward Arcturus, nearly 10° up in the east-northeast. The star made its first morning appearance several days ago and it is becoming easier to see each morning.
Spica is the next bright star to appear in the morning sky, making its heliacal rising. During the next few mornings, it begins to show about 45 minutes before sunrise in the east-southeast. The actual first morning appearance depends greatly on the weather and the clarity of the sky at the horizon.
Meanwhile, tomorrow Mars appears to reverse its direction and it begins to retrograde. An hour before sunup this morning, the Red Planet is high in the southwestern sky, above the Bull’s horns – Elnath and Zeta Tauri. The gap to Zeta is 2.7°.
Mercury, off its best morning appearance of the year, is in very bright twilight, rising 35 minutes before the sun. After superior conjunction on November 8th, Mercury heads toward an evening appearance near year’s end.
After superior conjunction, Venus is making a very slow entry into the evening sky ahead of Mercury. This evening the aspiring Evening Star sets only seven minutes after the sun. During the next several days, it only gains one minute of setting time every other day.
The crescent moon, 25% illuminated, is in the south-southwest after sunset. As the sky darkens, it is in front of Sagittarius, part of the pattern is known as “The Teapot.” During the next few evenings, the moon brightens the night sky considerably. Catch your views of dimmer celestial wonders because during the next two weeks, moonlight seems to wash them out.
The moon’s night portion is illuminated by earthshine, sunlight that is reflected from Earth’s features – land, oceans, and clouds.
Farther eastward, bright Jupiter and Saturn gleam above the southeastern horizon. With Venus immersed in bright sunlight, Jupiter is the brightest star in the sky this evening. Find it in the east-southeast as night falls. It is in the south about 3.5 hours after sunset. At that time, Saturn is in the southwest, while Mars is in the east-northeast.
Through a binocular, Jupiter and Neptune appear on opposite sides of the same field of view. The more-distant planet appears as a dim bluish star.
When the binocular is held steadily, Jupiter’s moon Callisto, near its greatest separation from the planet, is visible nearby.
Saturn is about one-third of the way up in the south-southeast – with stars in eastern Capricornus – Deneb Algedi and Nashira. It is beginning to slowly move eastward again. The planet’s daily distance is not large like planets closer to the sun. Its motion is more subtle. Look across several nights to see the change.
Through a binocular, Saturn is 0.6° to the left of Iota Capricorni (ι Cap on the chart). As its picks up eastward speed, it opens a gap with Iota, heading generally toward Nashira and Deneb Algedi.
Just before 10 p.m. CDT, Jupiter’s Red Spot swings into view again. In the Central Time Zone, the planet is near its high point in the south, about halfway up in the sky.
Before midnight, when Jupiter is about halfway up in the sky, Saturn, the Jovian Giant, and Mars are along an arc of the ecliptic, the solar system’s plane.
- 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.