by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:44 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:38 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:
Over three hours before daybreak, Saturn is low in the west-southwest, nearly 18° to the lower right of the gibbous moon, 98% illuminated. Venus is low in the east, nearly 170° from the Ringed Wonder.
At forty-five minutes before sunrise, brilliant Venus stands 30° up in the east-southeast. It is stepping eastward in front of Leo, heading for a Regulus conjunction on October 9th. This morning, use a binocular to see it 2.8° to the upper right of Omicron Leonis (ο Leo on the chart). Venus passes by on the 2nd.
Mercury is retreating into bright morning twilight. This morning at this hour, the speedy planet is nearly 6° up in the east and nearly 19° to the lower left of Regulus.
Bright Jupiter is farther westward, over halfway up in the sky from the horizon to overhead. It is retrograding in front of Aries, 13.1° to the left of Hamal, the Ram’s brightest star, 11.2° to the upper right of Menkar, the Sea Monster’s nostril, and over 16° below the Pleiades star cluster, part of Taurus.
Mars sets less than forty minutes after sunset and is not easily visible.
The bright moon is at the Full moon phase tomorrow morning at 4:57 a.m. CDT. The moon is near perigee – the point in the moon’s orbit closest to Earth – again this month, and the term “supermoon” has been attached to this configuration, although this effect is not easily observed with the unaided eye compared to the size of the average Full moon.
This Full Moon is known as the Harvest Moon, the one closest to the autumn equinox that occurred less than a week ago. This bright moon aided the traditional harvest season and the lunar orb’s nightly position provided extended illumination to work outside after sunset. See the article about the Harvest Moon Effect.
This evening the moon rises several minutes before sunset. An hour later, it is over 10° up in the east-southeast, appearing farther westward during the night. It is south at midnight and in the southwest during morning twilight.
This evening Saturn is in the southeast after sundown, nearly 30° to the upper right of the lunar orb. It is in the south about four hours after sundown and low in the west-southwest about four hours before sunrise.
The celestial dome’s dimmer wonders are washed out by the Harvest Moon’s light. Aquarius’ stars behind Saturn’s retrograde show in a binocular. Neptune is not far from the moon on the sky this evening, appearing at nearly opposite sides of a binocular field. Even with an optical assist, the planet is hiding in the moonlight. Try to locate the dim world, but this is likely a lost cause this evening.
Jupiter rises in the eastern sky less than two hours after sunset and nearly 45° from the moon. Jupiter is higher in the east-southeast sky around midnight and about halfway up in the west-southwest during morning twilight.
- 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.