2023, July 29: Morning Planets, Evening Planets’ Disappearing Act


July 29, 2023: Bright Jupiter and Saturn are visible before sunrise.  Venus, Mercury, and Mars are disappearing into bright evening twilight.

2020, June 14: The crescent Venus appears low in the east-northeast, 25 minutes before sunrise. Welcome back, Venus!


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:42 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:12 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 29: Jupiter is in the east-southeast before sunrise.

One hour before sunrise bright Jupiter is nearly 50° above the east-southeast horizon, 12.4° below Hamal, Aries’ brightest star, and 11.4° to the upper left of Menkar in Cetus.  Jupiter is moving eastward in front of Aries.

Look for the Pleiades, appearing as a miniature dipper, to the lower left of the planet.

Chart Caption – 2023, July 29: Saturn is in the east-southeast during the night.

Saturn is farther westward, over 30° above the south-southwest horizon.  It is not as bright as Jupiter, but visible under most outdoor lighting situations.

The Ringed Wonder is slowly retrograding, appearing to move westward in the starfield opposite its normal direction, 7.3° to the upper right of Skat – meaning “the leg” – and 6.2° to the lower right of Lambda Aquarii (λ Aqr on the chart). Use a binocular to see Saturn against the starfield.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, July 29: Mercury and Regulus are visible through a binocular.

Brilliant Venus continues its dive into brighter sunlight.  It sets thirty minutes after the sun.  The Evening Star can be found soon after sunset, low in the western sky. A binocular is helpful to initially locate it, but the brilliant planet is easily seen without optical aid.  It is quickly overtaking our planet passing by on August 13th and quickly moving into the morning sky.

In comparison, Mercury and Mars are challenges to see.  Mercury is still somewhat bright but fading as it approaches greatest elongation.  It sets about sixty-five minutes after sundown and it can be found with a binocular near Regulus, just above the horizon, about forty minutes after sundown. Mercury is 1.5° to the upper left of Regulus.

Mars, dimmer than Regulus, is over 10° to the upper left of Mercury.  Not quite a lost cause, but without any bright stars nearby, find the planet through a binocular over 5° above the western horizon at an hour after sunset.

Chart Caption – 2023, July 29: The gibbous moon is near the Teapot of Sagittarius after sunset.

As the sky darkens further, the bright moon, 90% illuminated is less than 20° up in the south-southeast.  It is near the Teapot of Sagittarius, although a binocular is needed to see the starry background in this moonlight.

The moon is at its Full (Sturgeon) moon on August 1st at 1:32 p.m. CDT.

Tomorrow evening, the moon eclipses or occults the star Tau Sagittarii (τ Sgr on the chart), in the Teapot’s handle, for sky watchers in South America.

Notice that the lunar orb is about 13° to the upper left of Shaula and Lesath in the Scorpion’s tail, also known as the Cat’s Eyes.

Chart Caption – 2023, July 29: Saturn is in the east-southeast during the night.

Saturn rises less than eighty minutes after nightfall.  About ninety minutes later, it can be seen over 15° above the east-southeast horizon.  During the night it appears farther westward.



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