2023, April 20: Morning Saturn, Evening Planet Duo


April 20, 2023: Saturn appears in the east-southeast before daybreak.  After sunset, brilliant Venus and Mars are easy to see, as Mercury departs.

Photo Caption – A close approach of Venus and Mars, yet no conjunction. Mars outside the limits of Venus maximum separation from the sun.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:03 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:37 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:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, April 20: Saturn is in the east-southeast before sunrise.

Saturn is in the east-southeast before sunrise.  Rising two minutes earlier each morning, compared to the rising sun, the Ringed Wonder is nearly 15° above the horizon.

Jupiter, after its conjunction with the sun on the 11th is slowly appearing earlier in the morning sky before sunrise.  It rises about 10 minutes before the sun and gains about two minutes each morning.  It makes its first morning appearance next month.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, April 20: Venus and very dim Mercury are in the western sky after nightfall.

The Evening Star, Venus, is dominant in the evening sky.  Find it nearly 25° above the western horizon after sundown.  The planet is 7.6° to the upper left of Aldebaran, Taurus’ brightest star.

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

Venus is stepping eastward against Taurus distant stars, although the planets and the stars seem to be on the same dark velvet of nighttime.

Chart Caption – 2023, April 20: Through a binocular, Venus nears Tau Tauri (τ Tau).

Through a binocular, Venus is approaching the star Tau Tauri (τ Tau on the chart) and moving away from Kappa Tauri (κ Tau) and Upsilon Tauri (υ Tau).

Mercury, still appearing on the western evening chart, is over 6° above the west-northwest horizon.  About as bright as the stars in the Big Dipper, the planet is bathed in the blush of evening twilight.  Its sighting is not impossible, but very challenging.

Mercury is quickly overtaking our world on an inside orbital path, passing between Earth and the sun on May 1st.

Chart Caption – 2023, April 20: At the end of twilight, Mars can be seen against the Gemini Twins.

The second easily seen planet is Mars.  While not as bright as it was when Earth was closest on November 30, 2022, the Red Planet is dimmer than Pollux, but brighter than Castor, the Gemini Twins. The planet is over 32° to the upper left of Venus. At this hour it is over halfway up in the west-southwest, 10.7° to the lower right of Castor and 3.4° to the upper left of Mebsuta.

Mars is marching eastward against Gemini. Wait until the end of evening twilight – about 90 minutes after nightfall – to see Mars and Gemini’s dimmer stars that make two stick figures.  The planet is moving generally toward Pollux, passing in a wide conjunction on May 8th.

The planetary motion continues with the Giant Planets appearing in the morning, Mercury moving from the evening sky, and Venus chasing Mars eastward.



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