2023, January 9: Morning Moon, Venus Takes Aim


January 9, 2023: The bright gibbous moon is in the west before sunrise.  After sunset, Venus moves closer to Saturn.  Jupiter and Mars are visible as well.  Sky watchers with telescopes have a double treat with Jupiter.

2020, December 2: One hour before sunrise, Venus is 2.2° to the upper right of Zubenelgenubi .


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:18 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:38 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: 6:56 UT, 16:52 UT; Jan. 10 2:48 UT. 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 9: The moon nears Regulus, the brightest star in Leo, before sunrise.

An hour before sunup, the gibbous moon, 94% illuminated, is one-third of the way up in the sky above the west horizon.  It is in front of Cancer’s dim starfield, 14.5° to the lower right of Regulus, the brightest star in Leo, and 22.7° to the upper left of Pollux, one of the Gemini Twins.

Evening Sky

Chart Caprion – 2023, January 9: Three bright planets are in the western sky after sundown.

Three planets, Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter, are lining up in the western sky.  At forty-five minutes after sundown, brilliant Venus is less than 10° above the southwest horizon.  From night to night, Venus steps closer to Saturn, 14.7° to the upper left of the Evening Star.  Venus passes Saturn on the 22nd.

Each evening Saturn is lower in the western sky and Venus is higher.

Bright Jupiter is about halfway up in the south-southwest.  It is over 50° to the upper left of Venus.  The slow-moving Jovian Giant is passed by Venus on March 1st.

Chart Caption – 2023, January 9: Mars is near Aldebaran after sundown.

At this hour, Mars is farther eastward, less than halfway up in the eastern sky. It continues the illusion of retrograde for three more evenings, then it begins moving eastward compared to the starry background.

Mars is 8.5° to the upper left of Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus. After Mars returns to its eastward or direct motion, it passes Aldebaran on the 30th.

The four planets are along the arc of the ecliptic, the plane of the solar system.

Chart Caption – 2023, January 9: At the end of evening twilight, Mars can be seen against Taurus.

At the end of evening twilight, about ninety minutes after sunset, the dimmer stars are visible. The gibbous moon does not rise until three hours after sundown. Mars and Taurus are in the east-southeast.  Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster outline the face of the Bull, with the Pleiades star cluster on its back.  The horns are dotted by Elnath and Zeta Tauri.

Chart Caption – 2023, January 9: Through a binocular Saturn is near Deneb Algedi.

Farther westward, use a binocular to see Saturn against the starfield of eastern Capricornus. The Ringed Wonder is 1.4° to the right of Deneb Algedi and 0.3° below a dim star cataloged as 45 Capricorni (45 Cap on the chart).

Notice that 45 Cap, 44 Capricorni (44 Cap), and 42 Capricorni (42 Cap) are nearly in a line. Saturn passes 45 Cap on the 12th and Deneb Algedi on the 14th.  Look for Saturn’s slow eastward change from night to night.

Jupiter (NASA Photo)

At 8:48 p.m. CST, Jupiter is about 20° up in the west-southwest from Chicago. Sky watchers with telescopes from more westerly locations see the planet higher in the sky and in clearer air.  The Great Red Spot is at center stage in the southern hemisphere.  The satellite Io adds a celestial double-play to the scene.  It casts a shadow on the planet’s clouds.  Look earlier, around 6 p.m. CST to see the Jupiter’s moon begin to cross the planet’s face. The satellite’s shadow is projected on the clouds beginning at 7:20 p.m. after the Red Spot spins into view. The shadow reaches the northern region of the spot at around 7:50 p.m. Io becomes visible again against a dark sky at 8:15 p.m., while its shadow is still projected on the spot. The shadow leaves the cloud tops a few minutes before 8:30 p.m., followed by the spot departing our view around 10:30 p.m. as the planet sets in Chicago.



Leave a Reply Cancel reply