2023, July 5: Moon Aims at Saturn, Evening Planet Shuffle


July 5, 2023: Each morning, the gibbous moon is closer to Saturn.  Venus and Mars continue their planet shuffle with Regulus.

Photo Caption – 2019, March 1: This morning the moon is moon is nearly 3 degrees to the upper right of Saturn, partly obscured by a cloud.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:22 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:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, July 5: Saturn and the gibbous moon are in the southern sky before daybreak.

The bright moon, 95% illuminated, is about 20° up in the south-southwest, nearly 30° to the lower right of Saturn during morning twilight.  For the next two mornings, the moon moves closer to Saturn in the sky.

The Ringed Wonder, nearly 40° up in the south, is retrograding – appearing to move westward – against Aquarius.  The planet is not as bright as Venus or Jupiter, but it is among the brightest stars in the sky this morning.

The star Fomalhaut is about halfway from the horizon to Saturn.

Chart Caption – 2023, July 5: Jupiter and bright stars are in the eastern sky before daybreak.

Bright Jupiter is nearly 30° up in the east.  It is moving eastward in front of Aries.

Photo Caption – Jupiter (NASA Photo)

For sky watchers with telescopes, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is at the center of the planet in the southern hemisphere.  This long-lived storm is larger than Earth and it has been seen through telescopes from perhaps 1664.  The feature is at its prime observing spot from Earth nearly every ten hours, providing two to three opportunities each day to see it for sky watchers. Even at this level of twilight for Chicago-area observers, Jupiter is high enough in the sky to see the spot.  For sky watchers farther westward, the planet is lower in a darker sky, but high enough to see the Great Red Spot.

Look at the stars in the eastern sky.  Menkar, Cetus’ nostril, is to Jupiter’s lower right.  Taurus’ Pleiades star cluster and bright star Aldebaran are in the east-northeast.

Capella, over 20° up in the northeast, is the second brightest star this morning after Vega.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, July 5: Venus, Mars, and Regulus are low in the west during evening twilight.

Mercury is rapidly entering the evening sky, although seeing it is a challenge.  This evening the bright, speedy planet, sets twenty-nine minutes after the sun.  At this time, brilliant Venus sparkles through the bright western twilight.

About thirty minutes later, more stars are visible, including Mars. At this hour, the Evening Star is only 10° up in the west.  The planet is in its interval of greatest brightness that continues for more than a week.

Through a telescope, Venus displays an evening crescent phase that is 29% illuminated. The phase continues to shrink as the inner planet overtakes our world.

Venus is in a planet shuffle with Mars, 3.8° to the brighter planet’s upper left.  After the near or quasi-conjunction, Mars is marching away from Venus toward a conjunction with Regulus, 2.9° to the Red Planet’s upper left, in five evenings.

Venus, Mars, and Regulus fit into the same binocular field of view.  On the 19th and 20th, Mercury and the moon join this evening planetary shuffle.



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