2023, August 7: Jupiter, Saturn, Moon Shine Early Mornings


August 7, 2023: Jupiter and Moon are in the sky after midnight and before sunrise.  Saturn rises after sunset and is in the southwest before daybreak.

Photo Caption – 2022, October 15: The moon is to the upper left of Mars and the left of Elnath (Beta Tauri).


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:51 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:02 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times.

A Perseid meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid meteor shower on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2009 in Vinton, Calif. (AP Photo/Kevin Clifford)

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. For night owls or early risers, stand under a darker sky and look high into the sky for a bright Perseid or two, although meteors from the shower can be seen anywhere in the sky. 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:

Chart Caption – 2023, August 7: Before sunrise, Jupiter and the gibbous moon are in the southeast.

Jupiter and Moon are in the southeast before sunrise.  Bright Jupiter is over 50° above the southeast horizon, 12.4° to the lower left of the lunar orb that is 61% illuminated. Jupiter is slowly moving eastward compared to Aries’ stars, 12.8° to the lower left of Hamal, the brightest star.

At this morning’s phase the moon is easy to track is it moves westward from Earth’s rotation during the day. The moon’s phase is at the morning half phase (Last Quarter) at 5:28 a.m. CDT tomorrow (8th).

Photo Caption – Jupiter (NASA Photo)

At 5:45 a.m. CDT, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is at the center of the planet in the southern hemisphere when viewed through a telescope.  This is six minutes before sunrise in Chicago, but sky watchers farther westward see the planet and the spot easier in a darker sky.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 7: Around midnight, Jupiter and the moon appear together in the eastern sky.

Before midnight, the slightly gibbous moon, 52% illuminated, is low in the east-northeast.  Jupiter is 2.1° below the lunar.  The couple can be followed across the sky during the night. An hour before sunrise, while Jupiter and the moon are in the southeast,

Chart Caption – 2023, August 7: Saturn is in the southwest before daybreak.

Saturn is in the southwest, less than 30° above the southwest an hour before sunrise. The planet continues to retrograde as opposition approaches later in the month. The Ringed Wonder disappears into bright daylight and sets about two hours after sunrise.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 7: Saturn rises in the east-southeast during early evening hours.

Saturn rises in the east-southeast less than an hour after nightfall and less than three hours before Jupiter.  An hour after it rises, Saturn is over 10° above the horizon.

Photo Caption – This picture of Venus was taken by the Galileo spacecraft (NASA)

In a week, Venus passes between Earth and the sun, known as inferior conjunction, on the 13th and quickly moves into the morning sky.  The planet is at its farthest point from the sun, known as aphelion, today.

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, quickly fading as it nears its greatest elongation from the sun on the 9th.  It is very low in the west-northwest after sundown. After its eastward trek through the zodiac constellations and opposition in front of Taurus,

The Red Planet from the Mars Global Surveyor shows the effects of a global dust storm (NASA)

Mars is fading into bright evening twilight.  It does not pass behind the sun until November, returning to the morning sky next year.



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