2023, April 15: Morning Moon, Saturn, Evening Planets Stellar Dancing


April 15, 2023: Displaying earthshine, the morning crescent moon is near Saturn before sunrise.  During the evening hours, Venus, Mercury and Mars dance with the stars.

Photo Caption – Crescent moon, February 27, 2022.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:11 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:31 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.

Since April 1st, daylight increased nearly 40 minutes.

Summaries of Current Sky Events


Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, April 15: The crescent moon appears near Saturn before sunrise.

At forty-five minutes before sunrise, the crescent moon, 21% illuminated, is about 10° above the southeast horizon.  Notice that an imaginary line drawn between the points of the crescent moon, also known as the horns, are nearly vertical.

This morning the moon is below the plane of the solar system, the ecliptic, and the crescent indicates that the sun is much farther north.  In addition, the ecliptic has a low angle with the eastern horizon.

The moon’s night portion is showing earthshine, sunlight that is reflected from Earth’s features that gently illuminates the lunar night.

Saturn is over 12° to the left of the crescent.  It rises about two minutes earlier each morning and appears higher before sunrise.

Jupiter is slowly joining Saturn in the predawn sky.  A few days after solar conjunction, the Jovian Giant appears in bright sunlight. It makes its first appearance next month.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, April 15: Venus and Mercury are in the western sky after sundown.

The bright evening planets – Venus, Mercury, and Mars – continue to dance with the stars in the evening sky.

Brilliant Venus is “that bright star” in the west after sundown.  At 45 minutes after sunset, it is about 30° above the horizon.  It is 5.9° to the upper left of the Pleiades star cluster and 8.5° to the right of Aldebaran, Taurus brightest star.

Chart Caption – 2023, April 1-April 22: Venus moves from Aries into Taurus, passing the Pleiades and the Hyades.

The Evening Star’s quick-step against the background stars is easily seen from night to night.

Chart Caption – 2023, April 15: Through a binocular Venus and the Pleiades star cluster are in the same field binocular field of view.

This is the last evening that Venus easily fits into the same binocular field with the Pleiades star cluster.  Through the binocular notice the star 37 Tau.  It is dim, but serves as a marker of sorts because the planets usually pass within a binocular field of the star.  Venus is 1.9° above the star this evening.  Other similar stars appear in the same field of view with Earth’s Twin during the next several evenings.

Mercury is about 10° up in the west-northwest and over 20° to the lower right of Venus.  This evening it is about as bright as Aldebaran.  It is still visible to unassisted human eyes, but use a binocular to initially locate it in the blush of evening twilight.

Beginning tomorrow, the planet sets three to four minutes earlier each evening, dimming along the way.

Chart Caption – 2023, April 15: Mars is to the upper left of Venus, but lower than the Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux.

At this hour, Mars is less than 35° to the upper left of Venus.  The Red Planet is marching eastward against Gemini.  The planet is dimming from Earth’s increasing distance.  This evening Mars is about the brightness of Pollux, one of the Twins.

Gemini is the next constellation east of Taurus along the plane of the solar system, where the sun, moon, and planets appear to move.  Orion, with Betelgeuse, is to the south or left of Taurus.  Bright Capella is to the upper right of Venus, while the Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux are high in the sky and above Mars.

Venus crosses into Gemini on May 7th, while Mars leaves Gemini, crossing into Cancer, ten days later.  On that evening the Venus-Mars gap is only 17.3°.

Each evening, watch the planets continue to perform their dances with the stars.



Leave a Reply Cancel reply