March 4, 2023: Venus steps away from Jupiter after sunset. The evening gibbous moon is in the eastern sky, above Regulus. Mars marches eastward against Taurus.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:21 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:44 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:
Two bright morning planets, Mercury and Saturn, are hidden by bright morning twilight. They are not easily visible. Saturn, climbing into the morning sky, rises 26 minutes before the sun. It gains two minutes of rising time each morning. It makes its first appearance before sunrise about the time of the equinox.
Mercury plunges deeper into bright twilight each morning as its heads for superior conjunction on the far arc of its orbit in less than two weeks. It then makes the best evening appearance of the year during April.
Tomorrow morning, the bright moon is visible in the western sky before sunrise.
Brilliant Venus continues to open a gap on Jupiter in the west-southwest after sunset. Begin looking about 45 minutes after the sun leaves the sky. The Evening Star is over 20° above the horizon, with bright Jupiter 2.8° below it.
The planets are moving eastward in front of Pisces’ dim stars that are whitewashed by the blush of evening twilight. Venus travels eastward along the ecliptic over 1° from night to night, while Jupiter moves eastward less than 0.25° nightly. Venus stays within 10° of Jupiter for another week.
Venus sets later each night, but Jupiter sets earlier. The Jovian Giant disappears into bright evening twilight in a few weeks.
Meanwhile, high in the south-southwest, Mars marches eastward in front of Taurus. This evening it is 3.7° below Elnath, the Bull’s northern horn and 6.3° to the upper right of Zeta Tauri, the southern horn.
During the next several evenings, watch the Red Planet pass Elnath (March 9th), move between the horns (March 11th), and pass Zeta (March 14th).
The bright gibbous moon, 94% illuminated, is less than halfway up in the east and nearly 15° above Regulus, meaning “the prince,” the brightest star in Leo.
The moon reaches the Full moon phase at 6:04 a.m. CST on March 7th.
- 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.