2023, January 1: Morning Scorpion, Four Bright Evening Planets, Moon

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January 1, 2023:  The Scorpion crawls into the southeastern sky before sunrise.  After sunset, four bright planets and gibbous moon are along an arc across the sky.

2020, January 21: Mars is near Antares with the crescent moon nearby.

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by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:18 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:30 p.m. CST.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.  Times are calculated from the U.S. Naval Observatory’s MICA computer program.

Sunrise is at its latest time.  This continues through the 10th.  The length of daylight slowly increases during January to ten hours by the end of the month.

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot’s transit times, when it is in the center of the planet in the southern hemisphere: 0:20 UT, 10:16 UT, 20:11. Convert the time to your time zone. In the US, subtract five hours for EST, six hours for CST, and so on.  Use a telescope to see the spot.  Times are from Sky & Telescope magazine.

Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, January 1: The Scorpion climbs across the southeastern sky before sunrise.

The new year opens without a bright planet in the predawn sky. Like a late-night reveler, Scorpius is climbing into the southeastern sky before sunrise.  Its brightest star, Antares, is less than 10° above the horizon.  From the mid-northern latitudes, it is likely twinkling wildly from winter’s air currents. Antares was at solar conjunction on December 1 and made its first morning appearance on the solstice.

The Scorpion’s forehead, Dschubba, is 7.6° to the upper right of Antares and nearly 15° above the horizon.  The classic pincers, Zubeneschamali and Zubenelgenubi, reach westward.  Today, these stars are part of Libra.

The body and the tail of Scorpius are still below the horizon.  Each week, more of the constellation is revealed before the sunrises.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, January 1: The gibbous moon approaches Mars after sundown.

With Mercury’s departure from the evening sky after the rare five-planet display last month, four bright planets are in the sky after sundown.

At forty-five minutes after sunset, the bright moon, 78% illuminated, is over halfway up in the east-southeast at 45 minutes after the sun sets.  Bright Mars is nearly 23° to the lower left of the lunar orb and over one-third of the way up in the east.

The Red Planet is retrograding in front of Taurus, 8.4° to the upper left of Aldebaran, the constellation’s brightest star.  The planet’s retrograde ends on the 12th. The starfield is washed out by the moon’s brightness.

The moon reaches the Full moon phase on January 6th at 5:08 p.m.

Chart Caption – 2023, January 1: Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter are visible at the same time toward the west.

At this hour this evening, bright Jupiter is over halfway up in the south and nearly 40° to the upper left of Saturn that is over 20° above the southwestern horizon.  Brilliant Venus is about 5° above the southwestern horizon and nearly 24° to the lower right of Saturn.

Venus steps eastward faster than Saturn’s slow plod.  The Evening Star passes the Ringed Wonder on the 22nd.

After the Venus-Saturn conjunction, Saturn disappears into bright twilight next month.

This is followed by a conjunction with Jupiter on March 1st.

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