by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:45 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:36 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 sunrise, the bright Harvest supermoon hangs in the western sky. Saturn is less than 10° above the west-southwest horizon as Venus rises in the east. The gap continues to widen as Venus steps eastward toward Regulus, Leo’s brightest star, and Saturn retrogrades. This morning the separation is nearly 170°.
The Venus-Saturn opposition occurs October 10th and the two planets do not appear in the sky at the same time again until April.
The moon is at the Full moon phase at 4:57 a.m. CDT. By an hour before daybreak, the lunar orb is about 10° up in the western sky, nearly 40° to the lower right of bright Jupiter.
The starfield behind the Jovian Giant is difficult to see in this moonlight. The planet is retrograding against Aries, 13.1° to the left of Hamal, the constellation’s brightest star, 11.2° to the upper right of Menkar, Cetus’ nostril, and nearly 17° below the Pleiades star cluster, part of Taurus.
A binocular might be needed to see Alcyone, the brightest Pleiad, and Menkar.
The planet show, this morning, is with Venus and Mercury in the eastern sky. At forty-five minutes before daybreak, the Morning Star is 30° above the east-southeast horizon. It outshines all other starlike bodies in the sky.
Venus is stepping eastward in front of Leo, 8.5° to the upper right of Regulus. Use a binocular to see Omicron Leonis (ο Leo on the chart), 2.2° to the lower left of Venus. The Venus-Omicron conjunction occurs October 2 followed by the Venus-Regulus conjunction a week later.
Bright Mercury is over 6° above the horizon and 20.5° to the lower left of Regulus. The planet is retreating into bright morning twilight. It is visible to the unaided eye, although a binocular helps with the initial identification. The biggest challenge to finding the planet is a terrestrial obstacle in Mercury’s direction. An elevated structure or hilltop helps with a clearer view.
Mercury continues to brighten, but it appears lower in the sky each morning. This morning the speedy planet rises eighty minutes before sunrise and loses two to three minutes of rising time each day compared to sunrise. In a week, it rises less than an hour ahead of the sun.
Mars continues in a slow-motion slide into bright twilight. The Red Planet is dimmer than might be expected, setting less than forty minutes after the sun.
One night after the Harvest supermoon, the lunar orb rises in the east less than twenty minutes after sundown. By an hour after sunset, it is less than 10° up in the east.
Saturn is over 20° up in the southeast, nearly 45° to the upper right of the bright moon. The Ringed Wonder is south four hours after sundown. Tomorrow morning over three hours before daybreak, the planet is low in the west-southwest as Venus rises.
Bright Jupiter rises less than two hours after sunset, with the moon nearly 30° to its upper right. As midnight approaches, the planet is in the east-southeastern sky and then in the west-southwest tomorrow morning.
- 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.