August 21, 2023: The evening crescent moon is near Spica in the west-southwest. Venus is quickly moving into the morning sky.
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.
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
SUMMARY FOR VENUS AS AN EVENING STAR
Here is today’s planet forecast:
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.