2023, July 27: Morning Planets, Scorpion Moon


July 27, 2023: Jupiter and Saturn are visible during morning twilight.  The evening gibbous moon is near the forehead of Scorpius.

2020, June 15: Venus appears very low in the east-northeast about 25 minutes before sunrise.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:40 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:14 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 27: Jupiter is in the east-southeast during morning twilight.

Bright Jupiter is in the east-southeast during morning twilight, over halfway up in the sky.  The planet is moving eastward against Aries, 12.3° below Hamal, the constellation’s brightest star, and 11.5° to the upper left of Menkar, Cetus’ nostril.

Look for the Pleiades star cluster, nearly 18° to the lower left of the planet.

The Jovian Giant rises over five hours before sunrise, standing well up in the east-southeast during morning twilight.

At 2:39 a.m. CDT, the planet’s Great Red Spot is at the center of the planet in the southern hemisphere.  It is visible through a telescope among Jupiter’s cloud stripes.  When it is center-planet, Jupiter is nearly 25° up in the east in Chicago and higher for sky watchers farther eastward.

Jupiter has four large satellites – Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto – that are visible through earth-bound telescopes and sometimes through binoculars. Io’s shadow can be seen on the cloud tops when the Red Spot is visible.

Chart Caption – 2023, July 27: Saturn is in the south-southwest before sunrise.

Saturn, considerably dimmer than Jupiter, but brighter than most of the stars in the sky this morning, is over 30° above the south-southwest horizon.  It is retrograding in front of distant Aquarius, 7.2° to the upper right of Skat and 6.1° to the lower right of Lambda Aquarii (λ Aqr on the chart).

The star Fomalhaut, the mouth of the southern fish, is about halfway from Saturn to the southern horizon.

Evening Sky

The evening planet brigade is diving into bright evening twilight. Venus is quickly overtaking our planet.  Look carefully for it during bright twilight, near the horizon. It sets 40 minutes after the sun this evening.

Moving faster on an inside orbital path, the planet is about 30 million miles away tonight.  It passes between our world and the sun on August 13th and quickly moves into the morning sky.

Mercury is 5.2° to the upper right of Venus and visible through a binocular at 45 minutes after night fall.  Look carefully for Regulus 1.3° to Mercury’s upper left.  At this level of twilight, it is not likely visible.

Fifteen minutes later, Mars is over 5° above the western horizon.  Soon we will say goodbye to the Red Planet after its two-year apparition.

Chart Caption – 2023, July 27: The bright moon is in the south-southwest near Dschubba in Scorpius.

The bright gibbous moon, 72% illuminated, is over 20° up in the south.  Use a binocular to see the lunar orb 2.4° to the lower right of Dschubba.  The star’s name is translated as the Scorpion’s crown or forehead.

Later tonight, the 28th on the calendar in Australia, the lunar orb occults or eclipses Dschubba.

Chart Caption – 2023, July 27: Saturn appears in the east-southeast during the night.

Saturn, rising about four minutes earlier each evening, appears above the east-southeast horizon, eighty-five minutes after the sun sets.  By three hours after nightfall, the Ringed Wonder is over 15° above the horizon.  By tomorrow morning, it is in the south-southwest.



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