July 2, 2023: The bright moon makes an all-nighter, somewhat resembling the sun’s path a mid-winter. Venus and Mars shuffle in the western sky after sundown.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:20 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:
Two bright planets are easily visible during morning twilight. Bright Jupiter is about 30° above the horizon. The Jovian Giant is slowly moving eastward in front of Aries, 11.2° to the lower right of Hamal, the constellation’s brightest star.
While looking eastward, notice the Pleiades star cluster, in the shape of a tiny dipper, over 20° to Jupiter’s lower left. The stellar bundle is above Aldebaran, Taurus’ brightest star, over 13° below the cluster and less than 10° above the horizon.
Saturn, dimmer than Jupiter, is less than 40° above the southern horizon. The planet is slowly retrograding in front of Aquarius’ dim stars. The Ringed Wonder is 13.2° to the upper left of Deneb Algedi – the “kid’s tail” in Capricornus and nearly 20° above Fomalhaut – the mouth of the southern fish.
Mercury soon joins the planet shuffle in the evening western sky. This evening the speedy planet sets only fifteen minutes after the sun. Its evening appearance is a challenging view, although it joins brilliant Venus and Mars.
An hour after sunset, the Evening Star is over 10° above the horizon. The planet is in its phase of greatest brightness that lasts through the 17th. The mid-point of the interval is the 8th.
After the quasi-conjunction on June 30th, the Venus-Mars gap is 3.6°, but slightly larger than last night. Venus is 8.1° to the lower right of Regulus, Leo’s brightest star.
Mars continues its eastward march, passing the star on the 10th.
The crescent moon joins the scene with Venus, Mercury, Mars, and Regulus on the evenings of the 19th and 20th.
This evening the nearly-Full moon is low in the southeast in front of Sagittarius’ fainter stars. The moonlight overwhelms the stars in its vicinity and washes across the entire sky.
From Earth’s rotation, the moon appears in the south near midnight, setting in the southwest before sunrise. It reaches the Full (Buck) moon phase at 6:39 a.m. CDT, after moonset in Chicago. Tonight’s moon somewhat follows the path the sun makes on the winter solstice.
Continue watching the evening planet shuffle featuring brilliant Venus.
- 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.