2023, August 9: Moon-Pleiades Conjunction, Another Planet Uranus Viewing


August 9, 2023: The thick crescent moon is near the Pleiades star cluster before sunrise.  Use the moon again this morning as a guide to find planet Uranus.

2019, February 1: Mars appears over 7 degrees to the lower right of Uranus


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:53 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:59 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times.

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. The moon is waning and the overhead scene is darker each morning for the dimmer meteors. For night owls or early risers, stand under a darker celestial vault and look upwards for a bright Perseid or two, although meteors from the shower can be seen anywhere up there. By the peak morning the moon phase is a waning crescent, not interfering much with the shower. The meteor rate decreases slowly after the 13th.

Summaries of Current Sky Events

Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, August 9: Jupiter and the moon appear in the eastern sky before sunrise.

A thick crescent moon, 40% illuminated, is nearly halfway up in the east at an hour before daybreak.  It is over 14° to the lower left of bright Jupiter and 2.9° to the lower right of the Pleiades star cluster.

The Jovian Giant is slowly moving eastward in front of Aries, 12.9° to the lower left of Hamal, the pattern’s brightest star.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 9: The thick crescent moon and Uranus appear in the same binocular field of view.

Use a binocular to spot the Pleiades with the moon.  The cluster has blue-white stars.  A few dozen stars can be counted.  The cluster has a few hundred of them.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 9: The thick crescent moon and Uranus appear in the same binocular field of view.

An hour earlier, Uranus is visible again this morning in the same binocular field with the moon.  The planet appears as a dim blue-green star on the opposite side of the binocular field from the moon. Use the accompanying chart to find the stars and the planet in relation to them through the binocular.

Tomorrow, look for the moon, over 8° to the upper left of Aldebaran, Taurus’ brightest star.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 9: Saturn is in the southwest before sunrise.

Saturn is farther westward at this hour, over 25° up in the southwest.  It is retrograding in front of Aquarius. Notice Fomalhaut, the brightest star in Picis Austrinus, about 20° to the lower left of Saturn.

Evening Sky

Venus is still on the evening side of the sun as it races toward inferior conjunction, between our planet and the sun in four days.  Interestingly, the planet is nearly 10° to the lower left of the sun.  Because if its more southerly location, it sets nearly twenty minutes before the central star.

Mercury is nearing its greatest elongation, but it is dimming and its visibility in the northern hemisphere suffers from a poor view of the inner solar system from Earth. At 30 minutes after sunset, the speedy planet is less than 5° above the west horizon.  Try to find it with a binocular.

Mars is mostly a lost cause to see.  It is quite dim and sliding into brighter twilight. An hour after sunset, it is less than 5° altitude – height in the sky – above the west horizon, setting twenty-three minutes later.  The planet sets one-two two minutes earlier each evening.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 9: Two hours after sunset, Saturn is in the east-southeast.

As Earth overtakes Saturn, the Ringed Wonder rises earlier each evening.  This evening it rises in the east-southeast forty-seven minutes after nightfall. At opposition on the night of August 26th/27th, it rises at sunset.  Tonight, at two hours after nightfall, the planet is over 10° up in the east-southeast. 

During the night as Earth rotates, Saturn is in the south less than four hours before sunrise, about the time Jupiter rises, and back into the southwestern sky tomorrow morning.



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