by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:43 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:40 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
Summary for Venus as a Morning Star, 2023-24
Here is today’s planet forecast:
More than three hours before sunrise, Venus and Saturn are nearly at opposite ends of the sky. Venus is rising in the eastern sky and Saturn quite low in the west-southwest, 3.7° to the lower right of the gibbous moon and over 168° from Venus.
The Venus-Saturn separation grows to 180° on October 10th and afterwards, Saturn does not appear in the predawn sky with Venus until April 2024.
By an hour before daybreak, the Morning Star is less than one-third of the way up in the eastern sky, 9.9° to the upper right of Regulus, Leo’s brightest star. Venus is stepping eastward in front of Leo, passing Regulus October 9th. Meanwhile, use a binocular to watch it move toward and pass Omicron Leonis (ο Leo on the chart). That conjunction occurs October 2nd.
Venus and Sirius are nearly the same altitude – height above the horizon – during morning twilight. Sirius – night’s brightest star and also known as the Dog Star – is in the south-southeast, nearly 50° from Venus. The star is too far from the ecliptic, the track where the planets and moon appear to move against the background stars, to have a conjunction with Venus.
Procyon – meaning “before the dog” – is above an imaginary line from Venus to Sirius and nearly halfway up in the southeast.
Mercury is in its best morning display of the year. It is about 5° above the eastern horizon, 17.4° to the lower left of Regulus. The planet is bright and easily located from a spot with an unobstructed view toward its direction. As twilight brightens, the planet is higher in the sky and somewhat easier to see, although it is eventually washed out by the light of approaching dawn.
At this hour, bright Jupiter is over halfway up in the west-southwest. It retrogrades against Aries, 13.2° to the left of Hamal, the pattern’s brightest star, 11.2° to the upper right of Menkar, Cetus’ nostril, and 16.5° below the Pleiades star cluster, part of Taurus. Jupiter’s westward movement against the stars is carrying it between Hamal and Menkar.
Mars sets less than forty minutes after the sun. It is dimmer than might be expected and it is hiding in bright twilight.
The gibbous moon (97% illuminated), heading toward the Full moon phase on the morning of the 29th, is known as the Harvest Moon for this month. It is over 14° to the lower left of Saturn.
Because of this moonlight, it is difficult to see the dimmer background stars. Saturn is retrograding in front of Aquarius. The stars are easier to locate after moon rises later during the night in a week or so.
By four hours after sundown, Saturn is in the southern sky and in the west-southwest when Venus rises. The Ringed Wonder sets shortly thereafter.
Jupiter rises in the eastern sky less than two hours after sundown an appears in the east-southeast as the new calendar day begins. When twilight begins tomorrow morning it is in the southwestern sky.
- 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.