March 5, 2023: Venus, Jupiter, and Mars are visible after sundown. Venus and Jupiter are near each other in the west-southwest. The gibbous moon is visible before sunrise and after sunset.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:19 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:46 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:
The moon, a bright gibbous approaching the Full moon phase, is about 5° up in the west-northwest at one hour before sunup this morning. It is nearly 10° to the right of Regulus.
This morning’s bright planets, Saturn and Mercury, are bathed in bright morning twilight. The Ringed Wonder rises 27 minutes before the sun, followed by the solar system’s fastest planet 15 minutes later.
Saturn is slowly climbing into the morning sky, rising earlier each day. Find it low in the eastern sky in a few weeks at about the time of the equinox. In contrast, Mercury is moving toward superior conjunction on the far arc of its orbital path. It then appears in the evening sky next month.
The evening planet dance continues in the western sky after sundown. Brilliant Venus, over 20° above the west-southwest horizon at 45 minutes after sundown, is 3.8° to the upper left of bright Jupiter. The two brightest starlike bodies in the solar system are within 10° of each other through the 11th.
This evening Venus is about 125 million miles from Earth. Jupiter is 415 million miles farther away.
Each evening, Venus sets about two minutes later than the previous evening, while Jupiter sets nearly four minutes earlier.
Both planets are moving eastward in front of Pisces’ dim stars, washed out by the hues of evening twilight. Venus moves about four times farther than Jupiter each evening.
Meanwhile, Mars is high in the south-southwest. It is marching eastward in Taurus, nearing Elnath, the Bull’s northern horn. This evening it is 3.5° below the star. Mars passes the star in four nights.
The bright moon, 98% illuminated, is less than one-third of the way up in the sky above the eastern horizon. This evening it is 4.0° to the upper left of Regulus, Leo’s brightest star.
Earlier today, evening in southern and western Africa, the moon covered or occulted the star Eta Leonis (η Leo on the chart). Use a binocular to see the star this evening with the bright moonlight, only 1.2° above the moon.
With this bright moon, move the lunar from the field of view as the binocular’s brightness amplification may cause a temporary afterimage in your eyesight, like that from a camera flash.
The moon reaches the Full moon phase in two mornings at 6:40 a.m. CST.
- 2023, October 24: Venus, Jupiter, Bookend Bright OrionOctober 24, 2023: Morning planets Venus and Jupiter bookend many bright stars, including Orion. The moon is near Saturn during the evening.
- 2023, October 23: Venus at Greatest ElongationOctober 23, 2023: Venus moves to its farthest angular distance from the sun today, known as greatest elongation. During morning twilight, the Morning Star passes Leo’s Chertan.
- 2023, October 22: Moon Approaches SaturnOctober 22, 2023: During evening hours, the gibbous moon nears Saturn in the southern sky. Venus and Jupiter are visible during morning twilight.
- 2023, October 21: Three Bright Planets, First Quarter MoonOctober 21, 2023: Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are easy to locate during nighttime hours. The First Quarter moon phase occurs this evening.
- 2023, October 20: Jupiter’s Double Shadows, Mercury at Superior ConjunctionOctober 20: After midnight, Jupiter’s moons’ shadows dance across the cloud tops. Mercury is at superior conjunction.