April 22, 2023: After sundown, look for Venus, the crescent moon, and Taurus’ bright star clusters. Do not miss this lovely celestial exhibition. Before sunrise, Saturn is in the east-southeast.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:00 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:39 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.
After this morning, the sun rises before 6 a.m. CDT in Chicago. Sunrise does not return to this time until August 16th.
Summaries of Current Sky Events
Here is today’s planet forecast:
Saturn is slowly appearing higher in the east-southeast before sunrise. This morning, 45 minutes before sunup, the Ringed Wonder is nearly 15° up in the east-southeast. Not as bright as Venus or Jupiter, it is one of the brightest starlike bodies in the sky this morning.
Jupiter is slowly climbing into the morning sky, joining Saturn. This morning it rises only 10 minutes before the sun. The planet is bright, but not bright enough to be seen at daybreak.
This evening, look for the lovely gathering of Venus, the crescent moon, and the Pleiades and Hyades star clusters.
At forty-five minutes after sunset, Venus is nearly 30° above the western horizon, with the crescent moon, 9% illuminated, 6.3° to the planet’s lower right.
The crescent’s night portion shows earthshine, reflected sunlight from Earth’s features gently illuminates the lunar night.
Look at the scene with a binocular. Venus and the lunar crescent fit nearly on opposite edges of the field of view. Venus is passing 1.8° to the upper right of Tau Tauri (τ Tau on the chart), while the moon is near Kappa Tauri (κ Tau) and Upsilon Tauri (υ Tau). Look carefully for the earthshine on the moon that can be seen without the binocular.
The moon is too far away from the Pleiades for both to fit into the same field of view. Look at the star cluster and compare the star colors with those in the Hyades to the lower left of the moon.
This is a wonderous sight with Venus and the crescent moon with Aldebaran and the star clusters.
Venus, the crescent moon, and the Pleiades are beautifully close together. Venus and the moon, gather with the Pleiades about every year, except when this occurs during daylight. Visible gatherings occur about every other year. After a gathering during daytime next year, the three are together again on the morning of June 22, 2025. On that morning, they fit into a circle that is 15° in diameter, slightly larger than tonight’s gathering. On April 21, 2042, this gathering fits into a binocular’s field of view!
At this hour, Mars is over 30° to the upper left of the Evening Star. The gap between the two planets continues to close.
Mars is marching eastward in front of Gemini, 10.1° to the lower right of Pollux, 4.4° to the upper left of Mebsuta, and 4.6° to the lower right of Wasat. The Red Planet is moving generally toward Pollux, passing the star in a wide conjunction on May 8th.
Look later, about 90 minutes after sundown, near the end of evening twilight when dimmer stars are visible. Find Gemini’s stick figures that represent the Twins.
Mercury is exiting the evening sky. Very dim and low in the west-northwest, the planet sets over 70 minutes after sundown. It loses about eight minutes of setting time each evening. It passes between Earth and the sun on May 1st.
From central Asia and India, tomorrow evening, the crescent moon is about 0.5° from Venus, a spectacular sight! Tomorrow evening from the Americas, the crescent moon is above Venus, still within the same binocular field of view and near Elnath, Taurus’ northern horn.
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