May 27, 2023: Jupiter and Saturn are visible before daybreak. Venus, Mars, and the gibbous moon are visible after nightfall.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:21 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:15 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.
The change of daylight’s length has slowed to one to two minutes each day. The length is six minutes short of fifteen hours.
Summaries of Current Sky Events
Here is today’s planet forecast:
Two bright planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are visible during morning twilight in the eastern sky. Saturn is easier to locate, over 25° above the southeast horizon. While not as bright as Venus or Jupiter, it is among the brightest stars in the sky this morning.
Saturn is nearly 20° to the upper left of Fomalhaut, that is over 6° above the horizon.
At this hour, bright Jupiter is over 5° above the eastern horizon. It continues to emerge from brighter twilight into a darker sky. It is over 12° to the lower right of Hamal, meaning “the full-grown lamb,” Aries’ brightest star.
Capella is farther northward along the horizon, over 4° up in the north-northeast. At times, this star appears both after sunset in the west and in the eastern predawn sky. This occurs because the star is far enough north to be seen at both times during late spring.
Capella is the fourth brightest star in the sky this morning after Jupiter, Arcturus, and Vega. It is nearly 20° to the lower left of Mirfak, meaning “the elbow of the Pleiades,” in Perseus.
Mercury is beginning to appear low in the east-northeast during brighter twilight. Rising nearly and hour before sunrise, it is only 4° above the horizon and over 9° to the lower left of Jupiter. The gap between them is too large for both to fit into the same binocular field of view. Because of the level of twilight and that Mercury is not bright, the binocular’s optical assist is needed to see it.
The moon reaches its First Quarter phase at 10:22 a.m. CDT. It does not until early afternoon.
At an hour after sundown, the slightly gibbous moon, 54% illuminated, is over halfway up in the southwest. It is over 10° to the upper left of Regulus, Leo’s brightest star, and nearly 15° to the lower right of Denebola, the Lion’s tail.
Farther westward at this hour, brilliant Venus blazes from in front of Gemini’s stars. It can be simply described as “that bright star in the west” after sunset. The planet is stepping eastward, 4.3° to the lower left of Pollux, one of the Twins, and 12.6° to the lower right of dimmer Mars.
Venus is quickly overtaking Mars in the sky, noticeably cutting the distance each night. On its way toward Mars, Venus passes Pollux in a wide conjunction in two evenings.
The Red Planet is marching eastward in front of Cancer’s dim stars, 11.9° to the upper left of Pollux. Mars is dimmer from week to week, now about the same brightness as Castor, the other Twin.
Notice the brighter stars nearby. Procyon and Capella are in the same region as the planets and Gemini. Capella, meaning “the little she goat,” is less than 20° above the northwest horizon at this hour. It sets in the north-northwest after midnight and rises in the north-northeast before sunrise, a later setter and earlier riser compared to the sun.
Look toward Mars with a binocular when the sky is darker. Place the planet to the lower right portion of the field of view. The Beehive star cluster is visible to the upper left along with the two donkey stars, Asellus Borealis and Asellus Australis. The cluster is also known as the Praesepe, meaning manger.
Watch Mars’ nightly change compared to the star cluster. On the evening of June 2nd, the planet appears to be in the cluster.
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- 2023, October 16: Venus in Starry ConjunctionOctober 16, 2023: Venus passes a star in Leo before sunrise. A crescent moon is low in the western sky during evening twilight.
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- 2023, October 15: Three Bright PlanetsOctober 15, 2023: Brilliant Venus and Jupiter are visible before sunrise. Saturn is above the southeast horizon after sundown.