April 28, 2023: Saturn is in the east-southeast before sunrise. The bright moon nears Regulus and Leo. Brilliant Venus and Mars are in the western sky after sundown.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:51 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:46 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 climbing into the predawn morning sky. It passed behind the sun on February 16th, moving from evening sightings to the morning side of the sky. It rises two minutes earlier each morning. This morning find it over 15° above the east-southeast horizon. While not as bright as Venus or Jupiter, the Ringed Wonder is among the brightest “stars’ in this morning’s sky.
Jupiter follows Saturn into the eastern sky before daybreak. Only rising twenty-five minutes before the sun, the Jovian Giant is lost in the glare of approaching sunrise. Look for it next month.
Mercury is rapidly moving from the western evening sky to an unfavorable eastern sky morning view. It sets about 25 minutes after the sun, losing nearly 10 minutes of setting time compared to sunset each evening.
Venus is “that bright star” in the western sky after nightfall. It steps eastward each evening in front of Taurus, approaching Elnath, the Bull’s northern horn.
At forty-five minutes after sundown, the Evening Star is over 30° above the western horizon, 3.9° to the lower left of Elnath, and 6.5° to the lower right of Zeta Tauri, the southern horn. Watch it move closer to Elnath and then between the horns.
Notice the bright stars that are in the south during winter’s evenings. During late April, they are lower in the west. Orion’s Betelgeuse and Rigel are to Venus’ lower left. Sirius, the night’s brightest star, is low in the southwest, likely twinkling wildly. These stars soon disappear into bright evening twilight, reappearing in the eastern sky before sunup during the summer months.
The bright moon, 61% illuminated, is high in the south-southwest as the sky darkens. It is nearly 10° to the upper right of Regulus, meaning “the prince,” Leo’s brightest star. That distance is about the length of a fist – from pinky finger to thumb knuckle – when your arm is extended.
Regulus and the other nearby stars are whitewashed by the brightening moonlight. To see the stars, block the moon with your hand as you would to shield your eyes from the sun.
Tomorrow morning, during daytime in the Americas, nighttime farther eastward, the moon eclipses or occults the star Eta Leonis (η Leo) for sky watchers in India and Indonesia.
Mars, less than 30° to the upper left of Venus, marches eastward in front of Gemini’s distant stars. The planet is over halfway up in the west-southwest, 7.4° below Pollux, one of the Twins. The Red Planet passes the star on May 8th.
Venus continues to cut the gap to Mars. Earth’s Twin planet moves eastward against the distant stars about twice Mars’ pace.
Tomorrow evening the moon’s phase is brighter and farther eastward. The Full Moon phase occurs May 5th.
- 2023, October 21: Three Bright Planets, First Quarter MoonOctober 21, 2023: Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are easy to locate during nighttime hours. The First Quarter moon phase occurs this evening.
- 2023, October 20: Jupiter’s Double Shadows, Mercury at Superior ConjunctionOctober 20: After midnight, Jupiter’s moons’ shadows dance across the cloud tops. Mercury is at superior conjunction.
- 2023, October 19: Poured Moon, See Planet UranusOctober 19: Sagittarius seems to pour the moon into the sky this evening. Find Uranus with a binocular.
- 2023, October 18: Moon-Antares Conjunction, Bright PlanetsOctober 18, 2023: The moon is near Antares after sunset. Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the sky during the nighttime hours.
- 2023, October 17: Scorpion MoonOctober 17, 2023: The crescent moon is with Scorpius during evening twilight. Venus and Jupiter gleam from the predawn sky.