August 15, 2023: Bright Jupiter is in the southeast before sunrise. Saturn nears opposition. It is visible before sunrise and after sunset.
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
SUMMARY FOR VENUS AS AN EVENING STAR
Here is today’s planet forecast:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mercury continues its retreat into bright sunlight as it fades in brightness, setting forty-eight minutes after sunset.
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.
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.
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.
- 2023, October 20: Jupiter’s Double Shadows, Mercury at Superior ConjunctionOctober 20: After midnight, Jupiter’s moons’ shadows dance across the cloud tops. Mercury is at superior conjunction.
- 2023, October 19: Poured Moon, See Planet UranusOctober 19: Sagittarius seems to pour the moon into the sky this evening. Find Uranus with a binocular.
- 2023, October 18: Moon-Antares Conjunction, Bright PlanetsOctober 18, 2023: The moon is near Antares after sunset. Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are in the sky during the nighttime hours.
- 2023, October 17: Scorpion MoonOctober 17, 2023: The crescent moon is with Scorpius during evening twilight. Venus and Jupiter gleam from the predawn sky.
- 2023, October 16: Venus in Starry ConjunctionOctober 16, 2023: Venus passes a star in Leo before sunrise. A crescent moon is low in the western sky during evening twilight.