2023, February 13: Scorpion Moon, Evening Planets


February 13, 2023: The moon is with the classic Scorpion before sunrise.  After sundown, three bright planets are visible.  Neptune is near Venus through a binocular.

Photo Caption – 2012, August 18: Brilliant Venus and Jupiter in the morning sky.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:49 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:21 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: 1:12 UT, 11:08 UT, 21:03 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, February 13: The moon is with the classic Scorpion before daybreak.

The slightly gibbous moon, 52% illuminated, is less than 30° above the southern horizon.  The moon is half full (Last Quarter phase) at 10:01 a.m. CST.

The moon is with the classic Scorpion, 7.6° to the lower left of Zubenelgenubi – the southern claw – and 10.3° to the right of Dschubba – the forehead.

Antares – the heart – is about 20° up in the south-southeast.  The Scorpion’s body curves toward the horizon ending with the stinger that is over 6° up in the sky.

Mercury continues to retreat into bright morning twilight, rising less than an hour before sunrise, the planet is only 3° above the horizon at 30 minutes before daybreak.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, February 13: Venus is approaching Jupiter in the west-southwest after sundown.

Saturn, setting only five minutes after the sun, is not visible because of its proximity to the sun’s place in the sky.

The evening show continues with Venus approaching bright Jupiter.  Forty-five minutes after sundown, the Evening Star is over 15° above the west-southwest horizon, with bright Jupiter 16.4° to the upper left.

Chart Caption – 2023, February 13: Venus and very dim Neptune are in the same binocular field of view.

Venus is also approaching Neptune.  This evening the brilliant planet is 1.8° to the lower right of very dim Neptune, that is dimmer than the unassisted human eye can see.  Through a binocular, offset Venus to the lower right of the field of view’s center.  Neptune is in the middle of the field.

The challenge to see the most-distant planet in the modern solar system model is twilight.  Neptune is over 50,000 times dimmer than Venus and bathed in the blush of mid-twilight.  It is difficult to see, but an exceptionally clear evening may reveal the planet.

The conjunction occurs at 12:20 UT on the 15th, when the planets are below the horizon from Chicago.  The closest gap, 0.1°, is visible from central Asia.

Tomorrow evening, Venus is 0.6° to the lower right of Neptune and about the same distance to the upper left on the next evening from the Americas.

Chart Caption – 2023, February 13: Mars marches eastward in the eastern sky after sundown.

Farther eastward, Mars is high in the south-southeast as the sky darkens further.  It is marching eastward in Taurus, 8.8° to the upper left of Aldebaran and 9.6° to the right of Elnath, the Bull’s northern horn.

Next month, Mars passes Elnath, moves between the horns – the second horn is Zeta Tauri – and passes Zeta.



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