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.
Summaries of Current Sky Events
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.
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