2023, May 3: Venus in Phases, Spiked Moon


May 3, 2023: Brilliant Venus is in the western sky after sundown.  See its phase through a telescope.  The bright moon is near Spica.

Photo Caption – Venus, Mars, Moon


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:45 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:51 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, May 3: Saturn is in the east-southeast before sunrise.

Saturn is the lone bright planet visible before sunrise.  Find the planet nearly 20° above the east-southeast horizon at forty-five minutes before daybreak.  While it is not as bright as Venus or Jupiter, the Ringed Wonder is among the brightest stars this morning.

Bright Jupiter is slowly emerging from bright sunlight.  It rises nearly 35 minutes before the sun.  When it is above the horizon, the blaze of sunlight overwhelms the planet’s gleam.

Mercury is moving toward the morning sky after it passed between our world and the sun two days ago.  It rises only seven minutes before daybreak.

Chart Caption – 2023, May 3: One hour before sunrise, Scorpius and Sagittarius are in the southern sky, above the horizon.

Scorpius and Sagittarius are in the southern sky before sunrise during early May.  Take a look for them before the bright moonlight is visible before daylight hours.  The moon sets two hours before the sun rises.  An hour later, look toward the south-southwest.  Antares, Scorpius’ brightest star, is over 15° above the horizon. 

The constellation resembles a scorpion or fish hook. The Scorpion’s body curves toward the horizon and bends upward to the stinger.

Sagittarius, commonly known as “The Teapot,” is to the east or left of Scorpius. 

In the distance, between the two star patterns, the center of the Milky Way galaxy is hidden by dust, luminous gasses, and star clouds.  Look at the galaxy’s wonders through a binocular.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, May 3: Brilliant Venus is east and above the Bull’s horns, Elnath and Zeta Tauri.

Brilliant Venus is “that bright star” in the western sky after sundown.  Continuing to grow in brightness, the planet is nearly 30° above the western horizon at 45 minutes after sundown.  It is east of the Bull’s horns, 4.3° to the upper left of Elnath, the northern horn, and 4.8° to the upper right of Zeta Tauri, the southern horn.

Through a telescope, the planet shows an evening gibbous phase that is 65% illuminated.  During the month, watch the phase decrease to nearly half-full.

Can you still see Rigel, Orion’s foot, near the western horizon?  A binocular might be needed to locate it.

Chart Caption – 2023, May 3: Mars, to the upper left of Venus, approaches Pollux, one of the Gemini Twins.

Venus is stepping eastward toward Mars, over 20° to Venus’ upper left.  The Red Planet is much dimmer than Venus.  After its closest distance to Earth during late 2022, the planet has been fading in brightness.  This evening it is dimmer than Pollux, 5.7° to the planet’s upper right, but dimmer than the second Twin, Castor.  Mars passes Pollux in a wide conjunction in five nights.

Chart Caption – 2023, May 3: The nearly-full moon is near Spica in the southeast during the early evening hours.

Farther eastward, the bright moon, 97% illuminated, is less than 30° above the southeast horizon and 2.6° to the upper left of Spica – meaning “the ear of corn.”  To see the star, block the moon with your hand as you would to reduce the sun’s glare.

Tomorrow evening, the moon approaches the Scorpion’s claws.



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