2023, July 7:  Moon Greets Saturn, Brilliant Venus


July 7, 2023: The gibbous moon is near Saturn in the southern sky before sunrise.  Brilliant Venus is with Mars and Regulus in the west after sundown.

2020, July 6: The bright moon is 3.2° to the lower left of Saturn and 6.4° to the left of bright Jupiter. The Jupiter – Saturn gap is 6.3°.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:23 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:28 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 7: Saturn and the moon are together in the southern sky before daybreak.

The bright morning gibbous moon, 79% illuminated, is over 35° above the southern horizon and 4.0° to the lower left of Saturn.

The moon moves eastward each morning compared to the starry background, and its phase is smaller.  During this part of the lunation, the phase is said to be waning.  When it reaches Jupiter on the 11th, the phase is 35% illuminated, a waning crescent.

Saturn is retrograding in front of Aquarius’ dim stars.  While retrograding, Saturn seems to reverse its normal eastward direction and heads west for a few months.  This is an illusion as our planet overtakes Saturn and moves between the sun and the planet on August 27th.

This morning, the star Fomalhaut is nearly halfway from the horizon to Saturn.

Chart Caption – 2023, July 7: Bright Jupiter is in the east during morning twilight.

Farther eastward, bright Jupiter is about one-third of the way from the horizon to overhead.  The Jovian Giant is slowly moving eastward in front of Aries, 11.3° to the lower right of Hamal, the constellation’s brightest star.  With Jupiter, look for the Pleiades star cluster, to the lower left, and Aldebaran, above the east-northeast horizon.

Through a binocular at this hour, four of Jupiter’s moons are visible. They can be seen through a binocular, if it is held steadily. Io is east of the planet, while Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto are lined up to the west.   Through a telescope, the Great Red Spot is entering the view.  It reaches the center of the planet in the southern hemisphere 6:05 a.m. CDT, after sunrise in Chicago.  Sky watchers farther westward can see the centered spot in a darker sky.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, July 7: Venus, Mars, and Regulus gather in the western sky after sundown.

Mercury scrambles toward fainter evening twilight, setting tonight thirty-seven minutes after sundown.

Brilliant Venus can be seen shortly after sunset in the western sky. At an hour after nightfall, when Mars and Regulus are visible, the Evening Star is about 10° up in the west.

Venus is in its interval of greatest brightness.  It is a dazzling sight, but much lower than it was just a week ago at this time interval after sunset.  The planet is setting earlier each night.  It is quickly catching up to our planet on an inside orbital path.  Venus passes between our world and the sun on August 13th.  This is known as inferior conjunction.

In the sky, Venus is about to reverse its eastward motion in about two weeks.  This evening it appears near Mars and Regulus.  The Red Planet is 4.2° to the upper left of Venus and 1.7° to the lower right of Regulus.  This gathering easily fits into a binocular’s field of view.

Mars, dimmer than Regulus, passes the star in three nights.  Venus does not pass the star, but closes to 3.5° on the 16th.  The planet is angling away from Regulus.  Earth’s Twin planet does not pass Regulus until October when they appear in the morning sky together.



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