2023, August 15: Morning Jupiter, Saturn nears Opposition


August 15, 2023: Bright Jupiter is in the southeast before sunrise.  Saturn nears opposition.  It is visible before sunrise and after sunset.

Photo Caption – Venus and Moon, January 2, 2014


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 5:59 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:51 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times. Times are calculated by the US Naval Observatory’s MICA computer program.

This is the last day this year that the sun sets before 6 a.m. CDT in Chicago.  Sunrise does not return to this time again until April 22, 2024.

The Perseid meteor shower peaked two mornings ago before twilight began.  The shower’s rate is decreasing, but meteors from it can still be seen before morning twilight begins.

Sirius makes its first appearance at latitude 45° north today.  It is visible low in the east-southeast about 45 minutes before sunrise.

The moon is at the New phase tomorrow at 4:38 a.m. CDT.

Summaries of Current Sky Events

Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, August 15: Jupiter is high in the southeast before sunrise.

An hour before sunrise, bright Jupiter is high in the southeast.  It is moving eastward in front of Aries, 13.2° to the lower left of Hamal, the pattern’s brightest star, and 11.3° to the upper left of Menkar, Cetus’ nostril.

The Pleiades star cluster, known as the Seven Sisters, is to the left of the Jovian Giant and above Aldebaran and the Hyades.

Uranus is in the region, but it is not visible without the optical assist of a binocular.  The planet is outside the binocular field of view that has either Jupiter or the Pleiades.  Yesterday’s article showed a binocular view of the region that includes some stars in the constellation.  Since the distant world moves slowly, the overall distance from the other stars did not change much from the position displayed on the chart.

When Jupiter’s retrograde begins on September 4th, it is still too far west for both planets to fit into the same field of view.  Find Jupiter in the field and slightly move the binocular so that Jupiter disappears outside the right edge of the field, then look for the field stars and place them at the top of the view.  Dimmer Uranus is at the center.

Photo Caption – Jupiter (NASA Photo)

For early risers, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is in the center of the planet in the southern hemisphere through a telescope at 3:23 a.m. CDT.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 15: Saturn is in the southwest during morning twilight.

An hour before sunrise, Saturn is farther westward, over 20° above the southwest horizon.  It is not as striking as Jupiter or Venus, when it enters the morning sky in several days.

The Ringed Wonder is retrograding in front of Aquarius.  Use a binocular to see it 7.8° to the right of Skat, meaning “the leg,” and 7.3° to the lower right of Lambda Aquarii (λ Aqr on the chart).  Notice that the trio nearly makes an equilateral triangle.  Watch Saturn continue to move westward compared to these two stars.

Each morning Saturn appears farther westward at this time interval before sunrise.  At opposition, when Earth is between Saturn and the sun, the planet sets at sunrise.

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

Venus races toward the morning sky, making its first morning appearance in about a week, when it rises slightly north of east, forty-nine minutes before sunup.  The planet is bright enough to be seen during later twilight.

Evening Sky

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

Mercury continues its retreat into bright sunlight as it fades in brightness, setting forty-eight 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)

Dim Mars is mired in bright twilight, setting seventy-six minutes after nightfall.  It passes behind the sun on November 18th, returning to the morning sky during the new year.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 15: Saturn is in the east-southeast, two hours after sunset.

Saturn, nearing opposition on the night of the 26th/27th, rises in the east-southeast thirty minutes after sundown. Ninety minutes later the planet is nearly 15° above the horizon.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 15: The Milky Way is bracketed by Scorpius and Sagittarius in the southern sky.

At this hour the Milky Way arches across the sky from south, to high in the east, and to the horizon in the north-northeast.  The band of light, visible from the countryside is the rim of the galaxy.  The center is toward the south between the Teapot of Sagittarius and Scorpius, with the bright star Antares. Explore the region with a binocular to see glowing gas clouds, star clusters, and dusty areas.



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