2023, July 11: Pretty Jupiter-Moon Conjunction, Evening Planet Shuffle


July 11, 2023: The crescent moon and Jupiter make a pretty conjunction before sunrise in the eastern sky.  Venus and Mars continue their planet shuffle with Regulus.

Photo Caption – Jupiter greets the moon during morning twilight.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:26 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:26 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

Step outside and look eastward at an hour before sunrise.  The waning crescent moon, 36% illuminated, is 5.4° to the upper right of Jupiter.  This is a lovely pair in the blush of morning twilight. 

Photo Caption – Moon, November 14, 2017

Use a binocular to spot some earthshine on the moon’s night portion. It is from sunlight reflected from Earth’s features to gently light up the lunar night. This effect grows each morning.  As the moon’s phase grows thinner each morning, Earth’s phase as seen from the moon grows toward the Full phase, reflecting more light to brighten the moon’s nighttime. Earthshine can be captured with a tripod mounted camera with exposures up to a few seconds.

With the binocular, look for the Pleiades star cluster, 20.0° to Jupiter’s lower left and nearly 30° up in the east.  The cluster resembles a miniature dipper and rides on Taurus’ back.

Aldebaran, the Bull’s brightest star, is nearly 15° above the horizon and below the Pleiades.  Through the binocular, notice that Aldebaran appears to be part of a sideways “V” made by the Hyades.  Aldebaran is not part of this cluster, but seems to complete the recognizable shape.

Chart Caption – 2023, July 11: Saturn is in the south before daybreak.

Saturn – considerably dimmer than Jupiter, but among the brightest stars this morning – is nearly 40° up in the south at this hour.  The planet is now slightly west of the south cardinal direction.  It is retrograding – appearing to move westward compared to the stars – in front of dim Aquarius, nearly 13° to the upper left of Deneb Algedi, in Capricornus.

The star Fomalhaut – meaning “the mouth of the southern fish” – is below Saturn, about halfway to the horizon.

Tomorrow morning, the lunar crescent is between Jupiter and the Pleiades, followed by a close grouping of the moon and the star cluster the next morning.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, July 11: Venus, Mars, Regulus are in the west after sundown.

After sundown, Mars marches away from Venus and Regulus after the trio’s close grouping two nights ago.  To locate Mars and Regulus, first find brilliant Venus.  It is in its interval of greatest brightness and appears as “that bright star” in the west after sundown.

Chart Caption – 2023, July 11: Venus, Mars and Regulus as they appear in the binocular’s field of view.

The Evening Star is visible in the western sky as night falls.  It sets three to four minutes earlier each evening and by one hour after sundown, it is less than 10° above the horizon.  At this time Regulus and Mars are visible.  A binocular helps to locate Regulus, 4.1° to the upper left of Venus and Mars, 1.0° to the upper left of the star.  Can you see them to the upper left of Venus without the optical assist?

Mercury is joining this western planet traffic jam.  This evening it sets fifty minutes after sunset.

Watch the planet shuffle in the western sky after sundown.



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