June 22, 2023: Jupiter and Saturn are the morning planets in the eastern sky before sunrise. The moon is with Leo, above Venus and Mars, after sundown.
PODCAST FOR THIS ARTICLE
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:16 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.
Summaries of Current Sky Events
Here is today’s planet forecast:
Jupiter and Saturn are in the eastern sky before sunrise. One hour before the sun rises, bright Jupiter is over 20° above the east horizon. It is slowly moving eastward in front of Aries, 11.1° to the lower right of Hamal, the constellation’s brightest star.
This morning Jupiter’s four largest satellites are lined up in the west side of the planet. From the planet westward, the line up is Europa, Io, Callisto, and Ganymede. A binocular can reveal its two largest moons. A spotting scope or small telescope can pull in the satellite quartet.
Saturn, about twice Jupiter’s altitude – height above the horizon, is in the south-southeast. While not bright like the Jovian Giant, Saturn is among the brightest stars in this morning’s sky.
Through a telescope, Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is to the east of the planet’s globe and ring system.
Saturn is retrograding in front of dim Aquarius, washed out by morning twilight and the perpetual glow of outdoor lighting. Retrograde motion is an illusion from the line of sight from Earth to Saturn that extends to the distant stars shifting backwards or westward. This occurs for Saturn until November.
Mercury recedes into bright sunlight. It reaches superior conjunction on July 1st, heading toward an unfavorable evening appearance.
Venus is that brilliant star in the western sky after sunset. An hour after nightfall, the Evening Star is about 20° up in the east, 10.7° to the lower right of the crescent moon, that is 21% illuminated, and 4.3° to the lower right of Mars.
The evening planets are moving eastward in front of Cancer’s dim stars. They are to the lower right of Leo and its brightest star Regulus. Venus’ eastward progress slows and in about a week it closest to only 3.6° of Mars before the Red Planet pulls away.
This evening, the moon is near the backwards question mark that outlines Leo’s head. It is 2.8° to the lower right of Eta Leonis (η Leo on the chart). Look carefully for the star near the waxing moon. A binocular helps see the star and planet together.
After midnight and moonset in the Americas, the moon occults or eclipses the star for sky watchers in New Zealand and eastern Australia.
- 2023, October 21: Three Bright Planets, First Quarter MoonOctober 21, 2023: Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are easy to locate during nighttime hours. The First Quarter moon phase occurs this evening.
- 2023, October 20: Jupiter’s Double Shadows, Mercury at Superior ConjunctionOctober 20: After midnight, Jupiter’s moons’ shadows dance across the cloud tops. Mercury is at superior conjunction.
- 2023, October 19: Poured Moon, See Planet UranusOctober 19: Sagittarius seems to pour the moon into the sky this evening. Find Uranus with a binocular.
- 2023, October 18: Moon-Antares Conjunction, Bright PlanetsOctober 18, 2023: The moon is near Antares after sunset. Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the sky during the nighttime hours.
- 2023, October 17: Scorpion MoonOctober 17, 2023: The crescent moon is with Scorpius during evening twilight. Venus and Jupiter gleam from the predawn sky.