March 3, 2023: Two nights after their spectacular conjunction, Venus and Jupiter are in the west-southwest after sundown. The evening gibbous moon is with Cancer, between Regulus and Pollux.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:23 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:43 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.
Here is today’s planet forecast:
Saturn and Mercury are immersed in bright twilight. Mercury is nearing superior conjunction with the sun on the 17th, when it is on the far arc the orbit. Saturn passed solar conjunction last month and it is slowly climbing into the morning sky, becoming visible later this month. Saturn rises 24 minutes before the sun and Mercury follows nearly 10 minutes later. They are too close to the sun for easy observing.
After sunset, brilliant Venus and Jupiter are gleaming from the west-southwestern sky. The Evening Star is 1.5° above the Jovian Giant.
Venus moves faster eastward than Jupiter. The brilliant planet is opening a gap on the solar system’s largest planet. While they appear close together in the sky, Jupiter is over four times farther away from Earth than Venus.
The two planets are too far apart in the sky to see them in the same telescopic eyepiece, but they appear in the same binocular field of view.
Farther eastward, the bright gibbous moon, is about halfway up in the eastern sky. It is about one-third of the way from Pollux to Regulus, in front of Cancer’s dim stars. The distance from Pollux to Regulus is 37.0°.
Procyon is in the eastern sky, over 20° to the right of the lunar orb.
Mars, becoming dimmer as Earth moves away from it, is dimmer than Capella, over 20° above the Red Planet, and brighter than Aldebaran, Taurus brightest star, nearly 13° to the lower right.
Find Mars high in the south-southwest after nightfall.
The Red Planet continues its eastward march against the Bull’s stars. This evening it is 3.9° to the lower right of Elnath, the northern horn. It passes this star in six nights and moves then between the horns on the 11th. It passes the southern horn, Zeta Tauri, on the 14th.
- 2023, October 18: Moon-Antares Conjunction, Bright PlanetsOctober 18, 2023: The moon is near Antares after sunset. Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the sky during the nighttime hours.
- 2023, October 17: Scorpion MoonOctober 17, 2023: The crescent moon is with Scorpius during evening twilight. Venus and Jupiter gleam from the predawn sky.
- 2023, October 16: Venus in Starry ConjunctionOctober 16, 2023: Venus passes a star in Leo before sunrise. A crescent moon is low in the western sky during evening twilight.
- 2023, October 16-22: Celestial Events for the WeekOctober 16-22, 2023: The moon returns to the evening sky. Venus steps eastward in front of Leo, and a meteor shower is visible.
- 2023, October 15: Three Bright PlanetsOctober 15, 2023: Brilliant Venus and Jupiter are visible before sunrise. Saturn is above the southeast horizon after sundown.