2023, July 23: Venus Slips into Bright Twilight


July 23, 2023: The evening planet activity is losing Venus, the bright beacon in the western sky.  Use a binocular to see Mercury, Mars, and Regulus. Jupiter and Saturn are visible before sunrise.

Photo Caption – 2019, November 22: Venus and Jupiter are 2.1 degrees apart.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:36 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:18 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 23: Jupiter is in the eastern sky before sunrise.

Two bright planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are easily seen this morning before daybreak.  Bright Jupiter is over halfway up in the east-southeast an hour before sunup.  The Jovian Giant is slowly moving eastward in front of Aries, 12.1° below the constellation’s brightest star, Hamal, and 11.5° to the upper left of Menkar, Cetus’ brightest star.

Chart Caption – 2023, July 23: Saturn is in the south-southwest during morning twilight.

At this hour, Saturn is farther westward, nearly 35° above the south-southwest horizon.  It is distinctly dimmer than Jupiter, but brighter than most of the other stars in the sky this morning.  The Ringed Wonder is retrograding in front of Aquarius, 7.2° to the upper right of Skat, meaning “the leg,” and 5.8° to the lower right of Lambda Aquarii (λ Aqr on the chart).

Across several mornings, watch Saturn slowly move westward.  With the intrusive presence of outdoor lighting in cities and surrounding suburbs, Aquarius’ dimmer stars cannot be seen without a binocular.

Similarly, Uranus, at the edge of human eyesight, is washed out by the lights.  It is approximately between Jupiter and the Pleiades star cluster.  When the moon moves through the region again, directions will be provided to see it.  Neptune is too dim for unaided human eyes in any setting, so a binocular is needed to see it as an aquamarine star and a telescope with modest magnifications is required to see a tiny globe.  In the sky this distant planet is about one-third of the way from Saturn to Jupiter.

Pluto, the classic ninth planet, is just past opposition, low in the southwest at this hour.  A larger aperture telescope, a very dark sky in a remote region, and a very detailed star map are needed to see it.  This is not a casual observation, unlike spotting Jupiter in morning twilight.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, July 23: Venus, Mercury, Mars, and Regulus are in the western sky after sundown.

The brilliant Evening Star is rapidly leaving the evening sky.  It is easily visible in the bright blush of evening twilight, soon after sundown. The planet sets less than an hour after sunset, losing three to four minutes of setting time compared to the sun each evening.

By forty minutes after nightfall, Venus is very close to the horizon.  It is bright enough to be seen without optical aid, but Mercury, 7.4° to Venus’ right and dim Mars, 10.8° to the upper left, need the optical assist.  As Venus disappears into brighter twilight, these planets as well as the star Regulus, 4.5° above the planet, become more difficult to locate without Venus’ presence.

Chart Caption – 2023, July 23: The moon is near Porrima after sunset.

The evening crescent moon, 32% illuminated, is about 20° up in the west-southwest, 2.0° below Porrima, also known as Gamma Virginis, and 14.5° to the right of Spica, Virgo’s brightest star.

Chart Caption – 2023, July 23: Three hours after sunset, Saturn is in the east-southeast.

Saturn rises in the east-southeast less than one hundred minutes after sundown.  It appears three to four minutes earlier each evening compared to the sun’s setting time.  By three hours after nightfall, the Ringed Wonder is nearly 15° above the horizon. The planet activity in the western evening sky is quickly subsiding.  Mercury reaches its greatest separation from the sun on August 9th.  By then Mars sets 83 minutes after sunset, slowly slipping into bright evening twilight.



Leave a ReplyCancel reply