2023, August 6: Jupiter, Morning Stellar Extravaganza


August 6, 2023: Jupiter appears above bright stars in the eastern sky during morning twilight.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:50 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:03 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times.

2020, August 14: Sirius clears the horizon minutes before sunrise. The star is visible through binoculars and a short time exposure, but not with the unaided eye.

For sky watchers at latitude 35° north, Sirius is at its helical rising.  Look for it low in the east-southeast about 45 minutes before sunrise. While theoretically it is visible, the actual appearance is affected by weather and obstructions at the horizon.

Photo Caption – A Perseid meteor, photographed with a camera that views the entire sky. (NASA photo)

The Perseid meteor shower peaks before twilight begins on the morning of the 13th.  Brighter meteors related to the shower can be seen during the next several mornings, but the bright moonlight overwhelms the dimmer shooting stars. By the peak morning the moon phase is a waning crescent, not interfering much with the event.

Summaries of Current Sky Events

Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, August 6: Before sunrise, Jupiter appears above the bright stars Betelgeuse, Rigel, Capella, Pollux, Castor, and Aldebaran.

Two bright planets, Jupiter and Saturn, are visible before sunrise.  Appearing with Jupiter in the eastern sky are five of the fifteen brightest stars visible from the mid-northern latitudes.  One hour before daybreak, Orion, winter’s jewel constellation, is clear of the horizon with its bright stars Betelgeuse and Rigel.

Orion is a signal that Procyon, the Little Dog Star, and Sirius, the Dog Star, are nearing their first appearances.  Procyon means “before the dog.”  It rises over 20 minutes before Sirius and makes its first appearance a few days before the night’s brightest star.

Photo Caption – 2020, September 18: Brilliant Morning Star Venus appears with Sirius, Procyon, Castor, Pollux, Betelgeuse and Rigel.

When Venus returns to the morning sky, it is about the same altitude – height above the horizon – as Sirius from September 10th to October 1st.  Having them in the sky at the same altitude, but far apart is a wonderous sight.

Castor and Pollux, the Gemini Twins, are farther northward along the horizon. Capella, high in the east-northeast, is lower than Jupiter and distinctly dimmer.

Aldebaran, the Bull’s eye, is above Orion and nearly 30° to Jupiter’s lower left.  The star is below the Pleiades star cluster that is over 15° to the lower left of the Jovian Giant.

The gibbous moon, 71% illuminated, is less than 30° to the right of Jupiter.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 6: Saturn is in the southwest during morning twilight.

Farther westward, Saturn is less than 30° above the southwest horizon, that is about one-third of the way from the horizon to overhead.  The planet appears to be moving westward against Aquarius’ starry background.  This illusion is from Earth overtaking Saturn to pass between the Ringed Wonder and the sun.

After Venus appears in the morning, three bright planets are along an arc stretching from the eastern sky to the southwest.  The Venus-Saturn opposition occurs on October 10.  After that date Saturn sets before Venus rises.

Evening Sky

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

The three evening planets – Venus, Mercury, and Mars – are hidden by bright twilight after nightfall.  Venus is nearing its inferior conjunction between Earth and the sun on the 13th.  It moves very quickly into the morning sky.  By month’s end it is nearly 10° above the eastern horizon during morning twilight.

Photo Caption – 2022, June 27: Venus, Mercury, and the crescent moon.

Mercury is nearing its greatest elongation but is dimmer each evening. At thirty minutes after nightfall, it is about 5° up in the west.

Photo Caption – 2023, July 10: Mars-Regulus conjunction with Venus nearby.

Mars is dim and washed out by the blush of evening twilight. Setting eighty-seven minutes after the sun, the Red Planet is less than 5° above the horizon one-half hour before it sets.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 6: Saturn is in the east-southeast, two hours after nightfall.

Saturn rises in the east-southeast fifty-five minutes after nightfall.  With opposition approaching, the planet rises earlier.  Tonight, it appears in the south over three hours before daybreak and during morning twilight it is in the southwestern sky.

Around midnight, the moon is low in the eastern sky.  



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