2023, June 2:  Mars Marches through Beehive, Moon Headbutts Scorpion


June 2, 2023: Mars seems to be in the Beehive star cluster during the evening.  The nearly-full moon seems to headbutt Scorpius.

Chart Caption – Look south during summer evenings to see the Celestial Scorpion.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:18 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:19 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, June 2: Jupiter and Saturn are in the eastern sky before sunrise.

Before sunrise, two bright planets shine from the eastern sky. One hour before daybreak, bright Jupiter is low in the eastern sky, less than 10° above the horizon.  It is easy to spot away from terrestrial obstructions. The planet continues its entry into darker skies.  It rises nearly 110 minutes before the sun, gaining about three minutes of rising time each morning.  When it is higher in the sky and rising earlier, the planet appears above the blurring effects of our atmosphere.  Telescopic observations reveal atmospheric features as well the famous Great Red Spot.

Saturn, dimmer than Jupiter, is easily observed nearly 30° up in the southeast.  While it is dimmer than the Jovian Giant, it is among the brightest objects in the sky this morning.  The brightest star in the northern half of the sky and the second brightest for sky watchers at mid-northern latitudes, Arcturus, is low in the west. Vega, the next brightest star, is high in the west this morning, while the next star on this morning’s brightness list, Capella, is low in the north-northwest.  This is followed by Altair and then Saturn.

The Ringed Wonder is brighter than Fomalhaut, meaning “the mouth of the southern fish,” nearly 20° to the lower right and nearly 10° above the horizon.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, June 2: Brilliant Venus and Mars are in the west after nightfall.

Mars seems to be in the Beehive star cluster this evening.  The Red Planet is marching eastward in front of Cancer’s dim stars.  To find Mars, first look for brilliant Venus.

The Evening Star is less than one-third of the way up in the western sky. It is “that bright star” in the west after sunset.  The planet sets around midnight.

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

Venus is stepping eastward in front of Gemini’s stars, 5.8° to the left of Pollux, a Twin.  Notice that is above an imaginary line that begins at Castor, the other Twin, and extends through Pollux.  Tomorrow Venus crosses into Cancer.

Mars, about Castor’s brightness, is 10.2° to the upper left of Venus.  The Venus-Mars gap is too large for the planetary duo to fit into the same binocular field, but watch Venus continue to overtake the Red Planet.

Photo Caption – The Beehive or Praesepe star cluster (National Science Foundation Photo).

Through a binocular this evening, Mars seems to be in the Beehive.  The planet’s distinctly reddish color is contrasted against the background’s bluer stars.

Star clusters are gauges for stellar distances and ages.  These stellar bunches are nearly the same distance away. In this case the cluster is nearly 600 light years distant.  Against the sky, the cluster appears about 50% larger than the Full Moon.  This makes the cluster about 15 light years across.

Chart Caption – 2023, June 2: Through a binocular, Mars appears to be in the Beehive star cluster.

Mars passes the star cluster again on May 5, 2025.  At the October 11, 2026 conjunction, the planet again appears to be a member of the cluster.

Even through a binocular, the view of Mars in the cluster is somewhat muted by the bright moon in the eastern sky. The lunar orb, 99% illuminated and less than 20° above the southeast horizon, is one day from the Full (Strawberry) moon.

Chart Caption – 2023, June 2: The nearly-full moon appears to headbutt the Scorpion. Dschubba is the forehead.

This evening the moon is 3.9° to the upper right of Dschubba, the Scorpion’s crown or forehead.  So, the moon seems to headbutt the Scorpion. Later tonight, the moon occults or eclipses the star for sky watchers in southern South America, New Zealand and Australia.

From the American Midwest, the lunar orb is over 2° from the star before moonset tomorrow morning.

This evening notice Antares, marking the Scorpion’s heart, is less than 10° above the horizon and 11.1° to the lower left of the moon.  Antares rises at sunset and appears in the sky all night, setting in the southwest at sunrise.



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