August 22, 2023: Venus returns to the morning sky. Find it low in the east before sunrise. It rises earlier each morning returning as the bright Morning Star.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:06 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 7:41 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times. Times are calculated by the US Naval Observatory’s MICA computer program.
Summaries of Current Sky Events
Here is today’s planet forecast:
Saturn, nearing its opposition when Earth passes between the planet and the sun, is low in the south-southwest before sunrise. It is not as bright as might be expected, but it is brighter than most stars in the sky this morning, even with the bright contingent of stars in the eastern sky that includes Sirius, Betelgeuse, and Rigel.
Saturn is retrograding in front of Aquarius, 8.1° to the lower right of Skat, the leg, and 7.8° to the lower right of Lambda Aquarii (λ Aqr on the chart). The trio nearly makes an equilateral triangle. This slow westward illusion continues until November 4th, when the planet resumes its eastward trek.
At this hour, Jupiter is high in the south-southeastern sky. It moves 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.
The imitation Jovian moon Sigma Arietis (σ Ari) continues its apparent orbit around Jupiter. In reality the star appears behind the orbital plane of Jupiter’s bright moons. The planet’s eastward motion past the star creates an illusion that the imitator is part of the satellite system.
This morning through a telescope, Sigma nearly appears between Jupiter and Europa to the west of the planet. Ganymede, Callisto, and Io are toward the east. If a binocular is held steadily, the star is visible to the east of much brighter Jupiter.
Look for Venus this morning. It rises forty-nine minutes before the sun. Fifteen minutes later it is nearly 5° above the eastern horizon, easily visible from an observing spot with a clear horizon. It gains six to eight minutes of rising time each morning, regaining its status as the Morning Star.
Mercury and Mars are east of the sun hidden by evening twilight. The inner-most planet sets about thirty minutes after sundown, followed by Mars about thirty-five minutes later.
The thick crescent moon, 36% illuminated, is in the southwest after sunset. It is low, over 15° above the horizon, at one hour after sundown. The moon is bright enough this evening to slightly illuminate the terrestrial landscape and gently cast shadows.
This evening the lunar orb is 3.4° to the lower right of Zubenelgenubi, the Scorpion’s southern claw. The northern claw, Zubeneschamali, is higher in the sky. This stellar pair is part of today’s Libra, although they keep their original names.
The Scorpion’s forehead or crown, Dschubba, is nearly 20° to the upper left of the moon. The moon is over 5° from this star tomorrow evening.
Saturn, four nights away from opposition, rises only twelve minutes after sunset. An hour later, when the moon is in the southwest, Saturn is less than 10° above the east-southeast horizon.
Jupiter rises less than three hours after Saturn. As midnight approaches, Jupiter is low in the east-northeast. Tomorrow morning it is in the southeast.
- 2023, October 21: Three Bright Planets, First Quarter MoonOctober 21, 2023: Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn are easy to locate during nighttime hours. The First Quarter moon phase occurs this evening.
- 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.