2023, August 11: Side-by-Side Horns, Bright Jupiter


August 11, 2023: The crescent moon is with the horns of Taurus.  Bright Jupiter is easily seen in the eastern sky before sunup.

Photo Caption – 2020: April 26: The crescent moon appears near Venus as the brilliant planet approaches the star Elnath.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:55 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:57 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times.

Photo Caption – Spectacular Desert Sunsets

During the next twenty-four hours, daylight passes through the fourteen-hour mark.  It decreases two to three minutes each day.

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

The Perseid meteor shower peaks before twilight begins in two mornings.  The shower is increases in its rate, as well as a dimmer crescent moon contributing less moonlight.  The shower is best spotted after midnight as the shower’s radiant rises higher in the sky.  The shower peaks on the 13th before twilight begins. More meteors can be seen looking overhead, but shooting stars can be seen anywhere in the sky.

Photo Caption – A meteor watch party (By Open AI)

Organize your Perseid meteor watch.  Since one person cannot watch the entire sky, recruit four friends to join you in a late Saturday night to early Sunday morning watch.  One person watches the sky overhead and the others look toward the cardinal directions.

Summaries of Current Sky Events

Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, August 11: Jupiter and the crescent moon decorate the sky before sunrise.

An hour before sunrise, a pretty waning crescent moon, 21% illuminated, is about 40° up in the east, and 2.0° below Elnath, the Bull’s northern horn, and 6.0° to the upper left of Zeta Tauri, the southern horn, horns side-by-side. Elnath’s name means “the one butting with horns.” The points on the lunar crescent are known as cusps or horns.

Photo Caption – 2020, July 17: The crescent moon appears with Venus and near Aldebaran before sunrise.

Look for earthshine, the gentle glow that is within the lunar cusps.  This effect is from sunlight reflecting from Earth’s oceans, clouds, and land.  Photograph it with a tripod-mounted camera and exposures up to a few seconds.

Taurus somewhat resembles at celestial Bull.  Aldebaran represents an eye, and with the Hyades star cluster, they outline the animal’s head in a sideways letter “V.”  The Pleiades star cluster is riding on the Bull’s back.

Jupiter is nearly two-thirds of the way up in the southeastern sky, about 40° to the upper left of the lunar crescent.  The planet rises over six hours before sunrise and appears high in the sky during morning twilight.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 11: Saturn is in the southwest during morning twilight.

At this hour, Saturn is over 20° up in the southwest.  It is dimmer than Jupiter, but brighter than most stars this morning.

The Ringed Wonder is retrograding in front of Aquarius, 7.6° to the right of Skat and 7.0° to the lower right of Lambda Aquarii (λ Aqr on the chart).  The starfield is dim and when viewed from an urban or suburban location, outdoor lighting washes out the dimmer stars.  Use a binocular to see Saturn in front of the stars.

With opposition occurring later in the month, Saturn is lower in the morning sky each morning.  At that date, the planet sets in the west-southwest as the sun rises.

Evening Sky

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

Venus is still east of the sun, although it passes between our planet and the central star in two days, quickly moving into the morning sky.

Photo Caption – Mercury as Never Seen Before. (NASA photo)

Mercury, now passed its greatest elongation, is low in the west during bright twilight and fading in brightness.  It sets fifty-five minutes after sunset.

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 considerably dimmer than Mercury and wiped out by evening twilight.  It has ended a two-year romp through the zodiacal stars, passing opposition in front of Taurus.  Twilight’s visual curtain has closed this run.  The Red Planet continues to slowly set earlier each evening, passing behind the sun on November 18th and then an appearance in the morning sky.  Venus passes by February 22, 2024.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 11: Two hours after sunset, Saturn is in the east-southeast.

Saturn rises earlier each night, this evening forty-one minutes after sundown.  Over and hour later it is nearly 15° above the east-southeast horizon.



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