2023, June 10: Pleiades Return, Brilliant Evening Star


June 10, 2023: The Pleiades star cluster is making its first morning appearance. Venus continues to brighten in the western sky after sundown.

Photo Caption – The Pleiades star cluster. (U.S. Naval Observatory)


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:15 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.

Beginning today and extending through the 19th, the earliest sunrise occurs.  The latest sunset, 8:30 p.m. CDT, does not occur until the 23rd.  Today’s daylight lasts fifteen hours, 10 minutes, four minutes short of the longest daylight on the 18th and 19th.

Summaries of Current Sky Events


Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, June 10: The Pleiades star cluster returns to the eastern morning sky with Jupiter and Capella.

The Pleiades star cluster returns to the predawn sky after appearing to move behind the sun.  Sometimes known as the Seven Sisters, the star cluster resembles a tiny dipper.  Look for it low in the east-northeast an hour before daybreak.  The stellar bundle is about 5° above the horizon. Find a clear view of the horizon in that direction.

The Pleiades is part of the constellation Taurus.  It seems to lead into the sky a bright congregation of stars including Orion and Sirius, the night’s brightest star.

Look for the star cluster with a binocular.  What is the first morning you can see them without the binocular’s optical assist?

At this hour, bright Jupiter is nearly 15° up in the east.  It is slowly moving eastward in front of Aries, 11.3° to the lower right of Hamal, the constellation’s brightest star.

In the north-northeast, bright Capella is less than 10° above the horizon.  After Jupiter, Arcturus – low in the west-northwest – and Vega, high in the west, Capella is the fourth brightest starlike body in the sky this morning.

Chart Caption – 2023, June 10: The slightly gibbous moon and Saturn are in the southeast before daybreak.

The moon’s brightness outranks the stellar list this morning. At this hour, the slightly-gibbous moon is about 30° above the southeast horizon and 7.4° to the lower left of Saturn.  The moon reaches the Last Quarter phase at 2:31 p.m. CDT today, two hours after it sets from the American Midwest.

Saturn is reaching altitudes – height above the horizon – for telescopic viewing.  Its rings and larger moons can be seen easily.  Depending on the quality of the binocular, the rings can be seen as small extensions of the planet.

Chart Caption – 2023, June 10: During bright twilight, Jupiter and Mercury are in the eastern sky.

Thirty minutes before sunup, Mercury is about 5° up in the east-northeast and nearly 25° to the lower left of Jupiter.  The planet is bright, but awash in bright morning twilight. If it were visible earlier during twilight, only Jupiter is brighter.  This morning it is visible through a binocular, but a challenge to see in this bright twilight.

The speedy planet begins to recede into brighter sunlight passing its superior conjunction with the sun on July 1st. Its next evening appearance is a challenge to see.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, June 10: Venus and Mars are in the western sky after sundown.

Brilliant Venus gleams in the western sky after sundown.  It continues to brighten as it overtakes our planet.  Even at its dimmest, the Evening Star outshines all other stars in the sky.  The difference in visual intensity can be seen during the course of the planet’s apparition or appearance. Quite simply, the planet can be described as “that bright star” in the west.

Through a telescope, Venus is a thick evening crescent phase, 46% illuminated.

Venus is stepping eastward in front of Cancer, to the upper left of Pollux and Castor, the Gemini Twins. It is approaching Mars, 7.3° to its upper left.

Chart Caption – 2023, June 10: Through a binocular, Venus, Mars, and the Beehive star cluster are in the same field of view.

The Red Planet, dimmer than might be expected, continues its eastward march at a rate slower than Venus.  Depending on a binocular’s characteristics, Venus, Mars and the Beehive star cluster fit tightly into the same field of view this evening.

Venus continues to close on Mars, but there is no conjunction.  Venus makes a big turn and the chase ends on June 30th with the Venus-Mars gap at 3.6°.

Continue to watch the Venus-Mars dance in the evening sky.

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