2023, August 21: Evening Moon, Venus Moves toward Morning


August 21, 2023: The evening crescent moon is near Spica in the west-southwest.  Venus is quickly moving into the morning sky.

Photo Caption – 2022, June 18: Venus and Mercury.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:05 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:42 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times. Times are calculated by the US Naval Observatory’s MICA computer program.

2020, August 14: Sirius clears the horizon minutes before sunrise. The star is visible through binoculars and a short time exposure, but not with the unaided eye.

Sirius first appears low in the east-southeast at latitude 50° north today, its helical rising for those sky watchers.

Summaries of Current Sky Events

Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, August 21: Jupiter is high in the south-southeast before sunrise.

Jupiter is in the south-southeast during morning twilight.  An hour before sunrise, the planet is over 60° above the horizon.  It is moving eastward in front of Aries, 13.4° to the lower left of Hamal, the constellation’s brightest star, and nearly 16° to the lower right of the Pleiades star cluster.  Jupiter’s eastward trek stalls on September 4th, when it begins to retrograde. 

Chart Caption – 2023, August 21: Through a telescope, the distant star Sigma Arietis (σ Ari) imitates a Jovian moon.

Through a telescope, the imitation bright satellite, Sigma Arietis (σ Ari on the chart) appears behind the orbital plane of the Galilean satellites, Jupiter’s four brightest moons.  This morning it appears to the lower left of Jupiter and the moon Europa. Jupiter’s slow eastward movement makes it appear that the imitation moon is revolving, but on the sky, the Jovian Giant is moving past the distant star.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 21: Saturn is in the west-southwest before sunrise, near Skat and Lambda Aquarii (λ Aqr).

At this hour, Saturn is about 15° above the west-southwest horizon.  It is nearing opposition when it sets at sunrise.  Each morning at this time interval it appears lower in the sky. The Ringed Wonder is retrograding in Aquarius, 8.1° to the lower right of Skat, the Aquarian’s leg, and 7.8° to the lower right of Lambda Aquarii (λ Aqr on the chart).

By month’s end, Venus shines brightly with Jupiter and Saturn in the predawn sky.  This morning, Venus rises forty-two minutes before the sun.  It is visible about 3° above the eastern horizon at twenty minutes before sunup from an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon.

Evening Sky

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

After sunset, Mercury and Venus are impossible to see by practical means.  The innermost planet sets thirty-four minutes after sunset.  It is quickly moving toward inferior conjunction, between Earth and the sun on September 6th, and then its best morning appearance of the year.  It reaches its greatest separation from the sun on September 22nd.

Mars (NASA)

Mars is quite dim, setting seventy-minutes after the sun.  It seems to be on a dreadfully slow pace to reappear in the morning sky during 2024.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 21: After sundown, the crescent moon is near Spica in the west-southwest.

An hour after sundown, the crescent moon, 27% illuminated, is about 15° up in the west-southwest, 6.8° to the upper left of Spica, meaning “the ear of corn,” Virgo’s brightest star.

Photo Caption – 2021, January 15: The thin waxing moon with earthshine, reflected sunlight from Earth’s features gently illuminates the lunar night.

Notice earthshine on the moon between the crescent’s cusps or horns.  This is from reflected sunlight from Earth’s oceans, clouds, and land that gently lights up the lunar night.

Chart Caption – 2023, August 21: Saturn is in the east-southeast during the early evening.

Saturn, five nights before opposition, rises fifteen minutes after the sun.  Forty-five minutes later, when the moon is in the west-southwest, the Ringed Wonder is nearly 10° up in the east-southeast.  During the night, the planet appears farther westward, crossing the south cardinal direction around midnight.

Jupiter rises less than three hours after Saturn, appearing low in the east-northeast around the midnight hour.  Tomorrow morning its high in the south-southeast.



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