January 25, 2023: Before sunrise, Mercury is in the southeast before sunrise. After sundown, the pretty moon is near Jupiter, making a photogenic scene.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:10 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:57 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.
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot’s transit times, when it is in the center of the planet in the southern hemisphere: 0:18 UT, 10:14 UT, 20:09 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:
Mercury continues as the lone bright planet in the morning sky. At forty-five minutes before sunrise, it is 7.0° up in the southeast.
The planet is brighter than the star Altair – to Mercury’s upper left in the east – and Antares – about the same altitude as Altair – in the south-southeast. Even at this brightness, find a clear view toward its location and use a binocular to initially find the planet.
Mercury is nearing its greatest elongation – when the planet appears farthest from the sun – in less than a week. After that point, the planet slips back into bright sunlight, passes on the far side of the sun, and appears in the evening sky.
A wonderous crescent moon is near bright Jupiter after sundown. Look about halfway up in the southwest for the lunar crescent, 23% illuminated, 3.5° below Jupiter. This is a pretty sight, although a binocular accents the view. It is a photogenic scene.
Again this evening, the moon shows earthshine on its night portion. The effect is from sunlight reflected from Earth’s features.
Venus and Saturn are lower in the west-southwest at this hour. Bright Venus is over 10° above the horizon and 3.5° to the upper left of Saturn. Venus passed Saturn three nights ago and the separation grows over 1° each evening.
Venus continues to step eastward toward Jupiter, passing the Jovian Giant on March 1st. Tonight the gap is 36.3°.
Saturn is slowly slipping into bright twilight. This evening, it is only 8° above the horizon. In about four evenings, it will be a challenge to see without a binocular’s optical assist. The planet is at solar conjunction on February 16, beginning its slow rise into the morning sky.
Mars is the fourth bright planet visible at this hour. It is high in the sky toward the east-southeast to the upper left of Aldebaran, Taurus’ brightest star. Mars passes the star in five evenings in a wide conjunction. A little later when the sky is darker, it can be seen against Taurus.
February 25, 2023: After sundown, Venus closes on Jupiter as their close conjunction approaches. The crescent moon nears Mars and Taurus in the southern sky.Keep reading
February 24, 2023: The evening moon, showing earthshine, appears above converging planets, Venus and Jupiter. Mars marches eastward in Taurus, high in the south.Keep reading
February 23, 2023: After sundown, three bright planets and the crescent moon are easily visible. The bright winter stars of the Orion region are in the southern sky after sundown.Keep reading