2023, May 9: Poached Moon, Brilliant Venus


May 9: Before sunrise, the moon appears to be cooking in the Teapot of Sagittarius.  After sundown, brilliant Venus gleams from the western sky in front of Gemini’s stars.

Photo Caption – Venus, November 19, 2013


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:37 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:58 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 9: The gibbous moon is in the south before daybreak, in front of Sagittarius.

An hour before sunrise, the moon, 84% illuminated, is low in the south, in front of Sagittarius.  The moon is too bright to easily see the stars of the pattern that resemble a Teapot. The moon was last in this region on April 12.

This evening, when the moon is below the horizon in the Americas, the lunar orb occults or eclipses the star Tau Sagittarii (τ Sgr on the chart) for sky watchers in Madagascar and southern Africa. The date is May 10 in the regions where the occultation occurs.

Chart Caption – 2023, May 9: Saturn is in the southeast before sunrise.

Farther eastward, Saturn is in the southeastern sky.  Appearing higher each morning, the planet is 20° above the horizon at 45 minutes before daybreak.

Jupiter crosses the horizon about two hours after Saturn.  The Jovian Giant is slowly emerging from bright sunlight.  By 30 minutes before sunup, the planet is about 3° above the east-northeast horizon.  Energetic Jupiter watchers can find it through a binocular looking across an unobstructed horizon.

Mercury is making its way into the morning sky, following its recent inferior conjunction – between Earth and the sun.  It rises less than 25 minutes before the sun and it is washed out of view by the rising central star.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – Venus moves in front of Gemini, May 7-June 2, 2023.

Brilliant Venus is in the western sky after sunset.  It is there until about the midnight hour.  The planet is stepping eastward in front of Gemini, 3.7° to the upper right of Propus, also known as Eta Geminorum (η Gem on the chart), marking Castor’s toe and 4.5° to the right of Tejat Posterior, the heel, also named Mu Geminorum (μ Gem).

Venus continues to brighten throughout the month.  It reaches its interval of greatest brightness beginning June 29th.

While the planet is setting near the midnight hour, after midnight in western regions of time zones, the planet is setting earlier.  It loses nearly 20 minutes of setting time compared to sundown through month’s end.

For example, in Chicago, Venus sets at 11:40 p.m. CDT tonight.  Just 50 miles east of the city in Sawyer, Michigan, in the far western reaches of the Eastern Time zone, the planet sets on May 10th at 12:44 a.m. EDT.

Chart Caption – 2023, May 9: Venus and Messier 35 are visible through a binocular.

Through a binocular, find Venus 1.9° to the upper left of the star cluster Messier 35 (M 35).  The cluster resembles gems bunched on a dark cloth.

Chart Caption – 2023, May 9: Venus and Mars are with Gemini in the western sky after sundown.

Mars, marching eastward near Pollux, is over 20° to the upper left of Venus and 5.0° to the lower left of the star.

The Red Planet continues to fade in brightness.  It is dimmer than Pollux, but brighter than Castor.



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