2023, June 20: Evening Western Line Dance


June 20, 2023: Pollux, Moon, Venus, Mars, and Regulus make a line dance in the western sky after sundown. The crescent moon displays earthshine.

Photo Caption – August 13, 2018: The crescent moon and Venus.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:15 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:29 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.

Daylight begins to shorten, a minute or two every few days. The latest sunset begins in three evenings and runs through July 1st.  The solstice occurs tomorrow at 9:58 a.m. CDT

Summaries of Current Sky Events


Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, June 20: Jupiter is in the eastern sky before sunrise.

Jupiter and Saturn are in the eastern morning sky before sunrise.  One hour before daybreak, bright Jupiter is about 20° above the eastern horizon.  It is moving slowly eastward compared to Aries’ stars, 11.2° to the lower right Hamal, the constellation’s brightest stars.

Through a binocular this morning, Jupiter’s volcanic satellite Io is to the upper right of the planet while Ganymede, the solar system’s third largest moon, is to the lower left.

Chart Caption – 2023, June 20: Saturn is in the south-southeast before daybreak.

At this hour Saturn is over 30° up in the south-southeast.  It is retrograding in front of Aquarius’ dim stars.  For sky watchers with telescopes, find Titan, Saturn’s largest moon and the second largest in the solar system, to the west of the planet and the rings.

Mercury is a technically a morning planet, but nearly impossible to see with conventional means.  The planet rises forty-eight minutes before the sun, losing rising time compared to sunrise each morning.  It passes superior conjunction with the sun on July 1st and moves into the evening sky.  Its evening apparition is a challenge to see.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption -2023, June 20: The evening western line dance extends from Pollux to Regulus, including the moon, Venus and Mars.

The crescent moon, 8% illuminated, is low in the western sky after sundown.  The moon is waxing and appearing higher in the western sky this week.  The lunar orb is the fastest moving body of the visible solar system objects.  It jumps eastward at about 13° each night.

Photo Caption – 2022, July 30: The crescent moon with earthshine. (Photo by MJB)

Look carefully at the moon to see earthshine, sunlight reflected from Earth’s features that gently illuminates the lunar night.  A binocular helps with the sight.

The moon is part of a western line dance this evening.  The dance line extends over 37° from Pollux to Regulus, along a diagonal line that includes brilliant Venus and Mars.

Venus continues to sparkle in the western sky after nightfall.  It continues to brighten and it easily outshines all the starlike bodies tonight. It is moving eastward toward Mars, 4.7° to its upper left. Venus does not overtake Mars and the closest approach is 3.6° on the 29th.

Mars is marching eastward as well in front of Cancer’s fainter stars, 11.8° to the lower right of Regulus, Leo’s brightest star.

Chart Caption – 2023, June 20: Through a binocular Venus and the Beehive star cluster appear nearly on opposite sides of the field of view.

Tonight, might be the last opportunity to see Venus and all of the Beehive star cluster in the same binocular field of view.  Wait until the sky is darker.  In the binocular, place Venus to the upper left of the field, the Beehive is to the lower right.  Tomorrow, the moon and Venus fit into the same field of view.  Depending on the characteristics of the binocular, part of the Beehive may fit with them.

Venus or Mars has fit into the same binocular field with the Beehive since May 22nd.  Set an alarm to see Venus and the crescent moon together tomorrow evening.



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