2023, June 7: New Saturnian Moons, Venus-Mars Evening Dance


June 7, 2023: Saturn has newly identified Moons.  Brilliant Venus and Mars dance in the western sky after sundown.

Photo Caption – A Hubble View of Saturn (NASA)


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:16 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:23 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 7: The gibbous moon is south before daybreak.

This morning during twilight, the bright gibbous moon, 86% illuminated, is low in the southern sky.  It is approaching Saturn, nearly 40° to the lunar orb’s upper left.

The Ringed Wonder and Jupiter are the bright planets visible this morning.  Saturn is over 30° above the southeastern horizon.

A recent announcement by Carnegie Institute for Science in Washington, DC, and Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Taiwan pushes the Saturn’s satellite count to 145. That is sixty-two newly identified Saturnian moons.

When we think of a moon, we perceive of something larger like our own.  There is no bottom limit to the size of planetary moons.  As long as the body can be tracked, it is classified as a moon.  Many of the smaller moons are irregularly shaped, approximately three miles at their widest.

It is reasonable to think that Saturn should have more moons than Jupiter’s current number at 95. With all the debris that makes Saturn’s ring system, it should have more smaller bodies that can be eventually tracked as telescope-imaging technology improves.

Saturn’s Titan, larger than planet Mercury, is the second largest moon in the solar system and has a substantial atmosphere.  This morning through a telescope providing about 150 magnifications, Titan is to the southeast of the planet.

Chart Caption – 2023, June 7: Jupiter and Saturn are in the eastern sky before sunrise.

Saturn is about 30° above the southeast horizon, high enough to be above the blurring effects of the atmosphere.

Bright Jupiter is over 10° above the eastern horizon.  It continues to appear higher in the sky before sunrise.

Chart Caption – 2023, June 7: Mercury is to the lower left of Jupiter before daybreak.

Thirty minutes before daybreak, Mercury is about 5° above the east-northeast horizon, and nearly 20° to the lower left of Jupiter.  The speedy planet is visible through at least a binocular.  It is brightening, but it is still lost to the unaided eye in the bright glow of the predawn sky. After this morning, the planet rises 62 minutes before sunrise for the next two mornings, then it begins to fall from the morning sky. It reaches superior conjunction with the sun on July 1st.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, June 7: Venus and Mars are in the western sky after sunset.

Brilliant Venus sparkles in the west after sunset.  Quite simply, it is “that bright star” in the west as night falls.  The planet continues to brighten through the month, reaching its brightest point during early July. Setting over two to three minutes earlier each evening, compared to sunset, it sets before midnight in the eastern regions of time zones and after the calendar flips to the new date farther westward.

Venus is stepping eastward in front of Cancer’s dim stars, 9.8° to the upper left of Pollux, one of the Twins, and 8.3° to the lower right of dimmer Mars. Cancer is the seemingly starless region between the Gemini Twins and Leo, with the bright star Regulus.

Chart Caption – 2023, June 7: Through a binocular, Mars is to the upper left of the Beehive star cluster.

Mars continues its eastward march, but Venus closes the gap each evening.  They are appearing closer together in the sky, but in the solar system, Venus is three times closer to Earth than Mars.

Wait until the sky darkens further.  Use a binocular to spot Mars to the upper left of the Beehive cluster. Slightly shift the binocular so that the star cluster appears to the upper left region of the field.  Venus appears to the lower right.

During the next few evenings Venus continues to close in on Mars and they begin to appear in the same binocular field of view.



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