2023, March 11: Mars Marches between the Bull’s Horns


March 11, 2023:  After sundown, Mars is between Taurus’ horns.  Venus and Jupiter are with 10° of the other until 2025.  Look for the gibbous moon before sunrise and near midnight.

Photo Caption – 2012, August 18: Brilliant Venus and Jupiter in the morning sky.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:10 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:53 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.

Daylight Saving Time begins tomorrow across North America, except in US states that do not advance their clocks compared to standard time. 

Daylight today lasts 11 hours, 43 minutes in Chicago.  Tomorrow, the sun is in the sky three more minutes than today from the seasonal changes of Earth’s revolution around the sun.  The change is that sunrise and sunset are advanced one hour.

Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, March 11: The moon is between Spica and Zubenelgenubi before sunrise.

The morning moon, 85% illuminated, is about one-third of the way up in the sky above the southwest horizon.  It is nearly midway from Spica, over 11° to the moon’s lower right, to Zubenelgenubi, nearly 10° to its upper left.

Spica is the brightest star in Virgo and over 20° above the horizon.  Zubenelgenubi, dimmer than Spica and about the brightness of the stars in the Big Dipper, is higher in the sky in the south-southwest than the moon.

This morning the moon is still in front of Virgo, approaching Libra.  On old star charts, Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali are the Scorpion’s pincers.

Of the constellations near the ecliptic, known as the zodiac, Libra is the only inanimate object that forms a distant background for the motions of the bodies of the solar system.  As has been noted here before, the moon and planets move in front of other constellations, near the famous 12 patterns, such as Ophiuchus, Cetus and Orion. Recently, Jupiter passed in front of Cetus for several evenings and Venus hopped across the constellation during one evening. In three mornings, Ophiuchus is the background for the moon.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, March 11: Venus and Jupiter are less than 10° apart in the western sky after sundown.

Venus continues to gleam as the brilliant Evening Star.  At forty-five minutes after sundown, it is over 20° above the western horizon, 9.7° to the upper left of bright Jupiter.

This is the last evening that the two planets are within 10° of the other until August 2025.  The separation is the distance across your outstretched fist from the thumb to your pinky finger.  While they appear near each other in the sky, Venus is nearly 122 million miles from Earth, while Jupiter is 422 million miles beyond Venus.

Chart Caption – 2023, March 11: Mars marches through the Bull’s horns in the southwestern sky as night falls.

Mars marches between the Bull’s horns this evening. Look for the Red Planet high in the southwest, to the lower left of Capella and above Betelgeuse and Aldebaran. Mars is 3.2° to the lower left of Elnath, the northern horn, and 4.7° to the upper right of Zeta Tauri, the southern horn.

This is the third occasion that Mars has moved between the Bull’s horns, during the current Martian apparition.  The first occurred October 17, 2022.  The second one occurred November 13th, after Mars began the illusion of retrograde that ended January 12th.  Mars passes between the horns again during late August 2024.

Mars continues its eastward march passing Zeta Tauri in three evenings.  On March 26th, Mars steps into Gemini

Chart Caption – 2023, March 11: The gibbous moon is with Zubenelgenubi near the midnight hour.

As the midnight hour approaches, although this could be after midnight for sky watchers in the western regions of their time zones, the gibbous moon, 79% illuminated, is over 10° up in the southeast and 2.3° below Zubenelgenubi. The moon moved eastward since this morning.

Look for Spica nearly one-third of the way up in the sky and over 20° to the upper right of the moon.



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