2023, August 2: Moon Nears Saturn, Bright Morning Jupiter


August 2, 2023: The moon approaches Saturn before their conjunction tomorrow morning.  Bright Jupiter is in the southeast during morning twilight.

Photo Caption – 2016, August 25: Mars, Saturn, Antares.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:45 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:08 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times.

Summaries of Current Sky Events

Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, August 2: Saturn and the moon are in the southwestern sky during morning twilight.

After its all-night trek, the Sturgeon moon is low in the southwest during morning twilight, nearly 18° to the lower right of Saturn.  Tomorrow the moon is near the planet.  Compared the moon’s location this morning to where it is during tomorrow’s twilight interval. Saturn, dimmer than might be expected, but brighter than most stars this morning, is retrograding in front of Aquarius. 

Chart Caption – Saturn’s retrograde – apparent westward movement compared to the distant stars – is depicted during four and one-half months.

With this moonlight the background stars are difficult to see.  The illusion is from Earth moving between the planet and the sun.  Opposition, when Earth is lined up with Saturn and the sun, occurs on August 27th.  Saturn rises in the eastern sky as the sun sets in the west.  It is in the southern sky near midnight, setting in the west as the sun rises.  The sun and planet are in opposite directions in the sky, appearing to mimic the opposite of the other’s visibility.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 2: Jupiter is in the southeastern sky before daybreak.

Jupiter rises about six hours before daybreak, around the midnight hour in Chicago.

During morning’s twilight, bright Jupiter is over halfway up in the sky in the southeast, 12.7° to the lower left of Hamal, Aries’ brightest star, and 11.2° to the upper left of Menkar, part of Cetus.  The planet is slowly moving eastward against the starfield. In this moonlight, look for the Pleiades star cluster, over 17° to the left of the Jovian Giant.

Evening Sky

Photo Caption – Venus as viewed from the Galileo spacecraft (NASA photo)

The evening planet show is in bright evening twilight.  Brilliant Venus sets only twelve minutes after sunset.  It passes between Earth and the sun, known as inferior conjunction, on the 13th and quickly moves into the morning sky.

Photo Caption – It’s small, it’s hot, and it’s shrinking. New NASA-funded research suggests that Mercury is contracting even today, joining Earth as a tectonically active planet. (NASA photo)

Mercury, dimming each evening, reaches greatest elongation in a week.  This evening the planet sets sixty-five minutes after the sun.  At thirty minutes after sundown, the speedy planet is about 6° up in the west.  Mercury aficionados need a binocular or a spotting scope to see the fading planet.

Photo Caption – 2007, December 1: Late winter in the northern hemisphere shows clouds above the northern polar cap and some above the southern cap. (NASA Photo)

Mars is completely washed out by the evening twilight.  While it sets over ninety minutes after the sun, finding it is a lost cause for most purposes.

While the planet brigade is lost in the sun’s light for northern hemisphere sky watchers, the group is higher in the sky for observers south of the equator.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 2: Saturn and the moon are in the southeast during the night.

Saturn and the moon, 97% illuminated, rise in the southeastern sky over an hour after the sun sets.  Two hours later they are over 20° up. Saturn is 5.5° to the upper left of the lunar orb.



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