July 4, 2023: The bright moon is in the southern sky before sunrise with Saturn. Jupiter is in the eastern sky at this hour.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:21 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
SUMMARY FOR VENUS AS AN EVENING STAR
Here is today’s planet forecast:
The bright moon, 99% illuminated, is low in the south-southwest at one hour before sunrise. It is heading toward Saturn, nearly 40° above the southern horizon and over 40° to the upper left of the lunar orb.
The Ringed Wonder is gently retrograding – an illusion from our faster-moving planet moving between the planet and the sun – in front of Aquarius. It is not dazzlingly bright like Jupiter or Venus, but among the brightest stars in the sky this morning.
Look for Fomalhaut, the brightest star in the southern fish, about halfway from the horizon to Saturn.
Jupiter is in the eastern sky at this hour, 11.2° to the lower left of Hamal – Aries brightest star – and over 20° to the upper right of the Pleiades star cluster, although this stellar bundle is somewhat blotted out by the bright moonlight. Use a binocular to see it.
The Jovian Giant is slowly moving eastward in front of Aries. It does not begin to retrograde until September.
Mercury continues its rapid ascent into a bright evening sky. It is bright, but it sets twenty-five minutes after sundown. It is joining brilliant Venus, Mars and Regulus in the western sky.
The Evening Star, in its interval of greatest brightness, is less than 15° above the western horizon an hour after nightfall. The planet is slowing and appearing to angle below Regulus, Leo’s bright star, 7.0° to the upper left.
According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also known as JPL, Venus is brightest on the evening of the 12th.
Venus does not reach Regulus, but passes 3.5° to the lower right of the star on the 16th and begins to retrograde six nights later.
Dimmer Mars is 3.7° to the upper left of Venus and 3.5° to Regulus’ lower right. It is marching away from Venus toward a conjunction with the star in six nights.
Venus, Mars, and Regulus fit into the same binocular field of view.
As midnight approaches, the moon, 95% illuminated, is low in the southeast. Saturn, nearly 30° to the lunar orb’s lower left is rising in the east-southeast.