2023, February 25: Venus-Jupiter Conjunction Nears, Moon Approaches Mars


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.

Photo Caption -2012, July 21: Brilliant Venus, Jupiter, Aldebaran, and the Pleiades rise into the morning sky.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:32 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:36 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, 11:07 UT, 21:03. 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

Mercury and Saturn rise during morning twilight, immersed in the bright light of the approaching sunrise.  Mercury rises only 28 minutes before the sun, followed by the Ringed Wonder about 15 minutes later.

The inner-most planet reaches superior conjunction on the far arc of its orbit on March 17th, then races into the evening sky for its best evening appearance of the year.  Its evening greatest elongation occurs on April 11th.

Saturn is emerging from its conjunction about a week ago.  It’ll make its first appearance in a darker sky around equinox time.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, February 25: Venus approaches Jupiter in the west-southwestern sky after sundown.

After sundown, brilliant Venus is nearly 20° above the west-southwest horizon and 4.2° to the lower right of bright Jupiter.  The night’s two brightest starlike bodies are near each other for the next two weeks. Venus passes closely to Jupiter on March 1st.

While the two planets appear close together in the sky, they are millions of miles apart in space.  This evening Venus is 129 million miles away, while Jupiter is over four times more distant than the Evening Star.

Both planets are in the same binocular field of view.  Some of Jupiter’s largest satellites might be visible.

Chart Caption – 2023, February 25: The crescent moon nears Mars after sundown.

The waxing crescent moon, 37% illuminated is high in the southwest.  As the sky darkens, look for the Pleiades star cluster, 9.2° to the upper left of the crescent.  It may be necessary to block the moon with your hand or the edge of a building to see the cluster.  A binocular is helpful to find the stellar bunch with this level of moonlight.

Mars is nearly 30° to the upper left of the lunar crescent and over 70° up in the south.   The Red Planet is marching eastward against Taurus and approaching the Bull’s horns.  It passes Elnath, the northern horn on March 9th, between the horns, and then past Zeta Tauri, the southern horn, on March 14th.

The moon is near Mars in two evenings.  Look each clear evening to witness the changing planet dance in the western sky and the moon’s eastward passage.



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