2023, June 24: Planetary Quartet


June 24, 2023: Jupiter and Saturn are visible in the eastern sky before sunrise.  Brilliant Venus and Mars are in the west after nightfall.

Photo Caption – Venus, Mars, Moon, September 10, 2015


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:17 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:30 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.

This is the second evening of eight nights when the latest sunset occurs.

Summaries of Current Sky Events


Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, June 24: Jupiter is above the eastern horizon during morning twilight.

An hour before daybreak, bright Jupiter is in the east, over 20° up in the sky.  The planet is moving eastward in front of Aries, 11.1° to the lower right of Hamal, the constellation’s brightest star.

The planet is easily clearing the trees and other neighborhood obstructions at this time interval before sunrise.  It is an easy target for a binocular or a telescope.  With the binocular up to four of its largest moons are visible.  They appear as stars near the planet.  This morning Europa and Ganymede are east of the planet, while Io and Callisto are to the west.

Chart Caption – 2023, June 24: Saturn is in the south-southeast, above Fomalhaut, before sunrise.

Saturn, dimmer than Jupiter, but brighter than most stars in the sky this morning, is nearly 40° up in the south-southeast.  It is retrograding – appearing to move westward against the stars of dim Aquarius that are washed out by the blush of morning twilight and the glow of perpetual outdoor lighting.

The star Fomalhaut, is about halfway from the horizon to Saturn.  The star marks the mouth of the southern fish.

Mercury is retreating into bright morning twilight. It rises thirty-five minutes before the sun and by the time it is high enough to be seen, it is overwhelmed by morning’s light.  In about a week, it passes behind the sun at its superior conjunction and then into the evening sky.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, June 24: Venus, Mars, and the moon are in the western sky with Leo after nightfall.

Venus is that bright star in the west, easily brighter than all other stars in the sky this evening.  An hour after sunset, the Evening Star is over 15° up in the west.  Its eastward progress is slowing as it approaches dimmer Mars 4.0° to the upper left.

It sets two hours, thirty-three minutes after the sun, losing two to three minutes of setting time compared to sunset each evening.

Mars is marching eastward in front of Leo.  Venus moves into the Lion’s boundary in two nights.

Leo is a westward-facing lion that we visualize in silhouette.  A backwards question mark, with Regulus at the bottom, represents the creature’s head.  A triangle with Denebola, the tail, outlines the Lion’s haunches.  Regulus is 13.4° to the upper left of Venus.

This evening, the moon, 38% illuminated, is nearly 10° to the lower left of Denebola.  The lunar orb is at its evening half-full phase, Last Quarter, at 2:50 a.m. CDT on the 26th.

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