2023, June 9: Morning Saturn, Moon, Evening Star, Venus


June 9, 2023: Saturn and the gibbous moon are in the eastern sky this morning.  Venus continues to chase Mars in the western evening sky.

2020, November 19: The crescent moon is 5,4° to the lower left of Saturn, while Jupiter is 3.3° to the lower right of the Ringed Wonder.

June 9, 2023: Saturn and the gibbous moon are in the eastern sky this morning.  Venus continues to chase Mars in the western evening sky.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:16 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:25 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 9: Saturn is with the moon in the southeast before daybreak.

This morning the gibbous moon, 68% illuminated, is in the southeastern sky, 8.6° to the lower right of Saturn.  The moon’s phase is half-full (Last Quarter) tomorrow.

Saturn is higher in the southeastern sky each morning.  The planet is moving slowly eastward against Aquarius’ dim stars.  Even at the middle of morning twilight, the constellation does not have any bright stars to reference with the planets’ motions.

The star Fomalhaut, meaning “the mouth of the southern fish,” is over 10° above the horizon and nearly 20° to the lower right of Saturn.  Additionally, Deneb Kaitos, Cetus’ tail, is above the horizon in the east-southeast.

Chart Caption – 2023, June 9: Jupiter is in the eastern sky to the lower right of Hamal, Aries’ brightest star.

At this hour, bright Jupiter is nearly 15° up in the east.  It is moving eastward against Aries.  The Jovian Giant is 11.4° to the lower right of Hamal, the constellation’s brightest star.

Jupiter is not high enough in the sky for good telescopic views. It is blurred and reddened by the lower layers of atmosphere, like the sun and moon when they rise or set.

Chart Caption – 2023, June 9: During bright twilight, Mercury is to Jupiter’s lower left.

Thirty minutes before sunup, Mercury is over 5° above the east-northeast horizon and over 20° to the lower left of Jupiter.  The speedy planet is brightening, but a binocular’s optical assist is needed to see it in this predawn light.  The planet begins its retreat back into bright sunlight, rising later compared to sunrise each morning.  Early next month, it passes behind the sun, heading toward a very unfavorable viewing appearance in the evening sky.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, June 9: Brilliant Venus and Mars are in the west after nightfall.

Venus, nearing the brightest phase of its appearance, is in the west after sundown.  It can be simply identified as “that bright star” in the western sky.  An hour after nightfall, the Evening Star is about 20° above the western horizon.  Each evening it sets earlier compared to sunset; tonight, the difference is three hours, seven minutes. From Chicago and in time zones’ eastern regions, this occurs before midnight, after midnight for locations farther westward.

Venus is stepping eastward in front of Cancer, to the upper left of Pollux, one of the Gemini Twins, and 7.6° to the lower right of Mars.

The Venus-Mars gap is closing as Venus overtakes the Red Planet.  Since May 1st, Venus has cut more than 20° from the distance.

These articles have teased the readers and podcast listeners to predict when Venus overtakes Mars, comparing it to the two-train problem from Algebra class.  The blue train leaves the station heading east at 25 miles per hour.  An hour later the red train leaves at 40 miles per hour.  When does the red train catch the blue train?

Actually, this is more like the chained dog chasing the intruder across the yard.  If the intruder has a head start, when does the leash end the dog’s pursuit?  In this Venus-Mars chase, this ends June 30th.  Venus gets to within 3.6° of Mars and begins to retreat.

Venus moves faster on an orbital track closer to the sun than Earth.  This restricts the distance Venus appears from the sun.  So, it appears in the east before sunrise or in the west after sundown.

On the other hand, Mars can appear opposite the sun in the sky, rising in the east when the sun sets in the west.  So, Venus is reaching the end of its rope, ending its Mars chase.

Venus continues to brighten and appear as a growing crescent throughout this month as it overtakes our world.

Chart Caption – 2023, June 9: Through a binocular, Mars appears to the upper left of the Beehive star cluster.

Through a binocular this evening, Mars is 4.4° to the upper left of the Beehive star cluster.  The Venus-Mars gap is too large for Venus to join Mars in the same field with the cluster.  After viewing Mars with the cluster, shift the binocular slightly to the lower right and Venus is visible with the Beehive.

Tomorrow evening, the two planets may fit into the same field with the Beehive, depending on the binocular’s characteristics.

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