May 29, 2023: After sundown, Venus passes Pollux, a Gemini Twin, in wide conjunction. Mars is nearby. Jupiter and Saturn are visible before daybreak.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:20 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:17 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.
During the next few days, daylight extends to 15 hours. Daylight reaches its maximum length, fifteen hours, fourteen minutes on June 23rd in Chicago. On that day, darkness, the time between the end of evening twilight and the beginning of morning twilight, is four hours, twenty-two minutes in duration.
Summaries of Current Sky Events
Here is today’s planet forecast:
Jupiter and Saturn are easily visible in the eastern sky before sunrise. Saturn is higher, over 25° above the southeast horizon, at one hour before daybreak. While not as bright as Jupiter, it is among the morning’s brightest stars.
Bright Jupiter is over 6° above the eastern horizon at this hour. It continues to climb higher each morning. Today, it rises nearly 110 minutes before the sun.
Mercury is racing into the morning sky, but it is a challenge to see in the bright twilight. It rises forty minutes after Jupiter. At thirty minutes before sunup, it is less than 5° above the east-northeast horizon, and 10.6° to the lower left of Jupiter – a gap that is too large for the pair to fit into the same binocular field of view.
Mercury is at its greatest separation or elongation from the sun. Geometrically, the angle from the sun to Mercury with Earth at the vertex is at its largest. This is the farthest we see the planet from the sun. The planet continues to rise earlier compared to sunrise through June 9th, although it is bathed in bright twilight. The binocular’s assist is needed to see this planet closest to the sun.
This evening the brilliant planet Venus passes 4.0° to the lower left of Pollux, a Gemini Twin. Venus is “that bright star” in the western sky after sundown. It is about 25° up in the west an hour after the sun sets. Venus continues to close the gap to Mars, 11.8° to the upper left.
The Red Planet is marching eastward in front of Cancer. Use a binocular to spot the Beehive star cluster and the stars Asellus Borealis and Asellus Australis.
The gibbous moon, 73% illuminated, is over halfway up in the southern sky, nearly 20° to the upper right of Spica, Virgo’s brightest star. The moon’s light whitewashes the sky covering the night’s dimmer stars. This light makes the Beehive star cluster more challenging to see as the moon phase waxes to Full moon phase.
Watch Venus move toward an imaginary line that connects Pollux and Castor and close on Mars.
- 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.