March 30, 2023: A Venus-Uranus conjunction occurs this evening after sundown. Use a binocular to see the dimmer planet. Saturn is visible before sunrise in the east-southeast.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:37 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:14 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location. Times are calculated by the U.S. Naval Observatory’s MICA computer program.
Summaries of Current Sky Events
Here is today’s planet forecast:
Saturn is low in the east-southeast before sunrise. At forty-five minutes before sunup, the Ringed Wonder is over 5° above the horizon and visible without optical aid. Find a clear view toward the east-southeast. A hilltop or elevated structure helps with seeing across any obstructions.
Jupiter, now in bright twilight, is technically in the evening sky, but it sets at 40 minutes after sundown. It is moving toward solar conjunction next month and a return to the morning sky during May.
At forty-five minutes after the sun sets, brilliant Venus is over 25° above the western horizon. It is the brightest starlike object in the sky tonight.
Look toward the south-southwest. Sirius, the brightest star, is slightly higher than Venus. The brightest planet and the brightest star are about the same altitude – height above the horizon.
At this hour, Mercury – nearly the same brightness as Sirius – is low in the west, nearly 25° to the lower right of Venus.
Venus passes Uranus in a conjunction with a gap of 1.2°. Uranus is too dim to be seen without a binocular or spotting scope for most sky watchers. It is visible from a very dark location, free from the intrusion of outdoor lighting.
Through a binocular, look for Venus and Uranus at about 90 minutes after sunset. Place Venus in the center of the field of view. The more-distant, aquamarine planet is to the lower left, appearing as a dim star. Uranus is over 17 times farther away than Venus.
At one hour after sunset, the bright gibbous moon, 68% illuminated, is high in the south-southwest, 8.1° from Pollux, one of the Gemini Twins. The lunar orb is in the boundaries of dim Cancer. The moon whitewashes the Crab’s starfield.
Mars is high in the southwestern sky, at Castor’s foot. The Red Planet is marching eastward, generally toward Pollux, passing the star on May 8th.
Through a binocular Mars is visible with Propus, Castor’s toe, and the star cluster Messier 35 (M 35 on the chart).
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