2023, October 4: Bullish Moon, Venus on Final Approach

Photo Caption – Venus, Jupiter, Mars, Regulus, October 20, 2015


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:51 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:28 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times. Times are calculated by the US Naval Observatory’s MICA computer program.

Photo Caption – Annular Eclipse 2012

An annular or ring eclipse, popularized as a “ring of fire” eclipse, occurs across a large track in the western hemisphere on the 14th.  Regions outside the main shadow see a partial solar eclipse.   For sky watchers in Chicago, the moon covers 43% of the sun, while 79% is covered from Phoenix.

View the eclipse safely without the damaging effects of prolonged exposure of the sun.  An eclipse does not cause eye damage, but the interest in looking at the sun is the issue.  Normally, we turn away from the brilliant sun when it is in our vision, but the eclipse generates its own interest.

Photo Caption – Straw Hat eclipses, May 20, 2012

Projection methods are the safest ways to view the eclipse.  Anything with small holes, such as a straw hat produces images of a tiny crescents on a white sheet on the ground or n a white shirt.

Summaries of Current Sky Events
Summary for Venus as a Morning Star, 2023-24

Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, October 4: Jupiter and the gibbous moon are in the western sky before daybreak.

On the 10th, Saturn sets as Venus rises.  The planet is not as bright as the Morning Star or Jupiter, and it is easily lost in the haze and blurring effects of the air near the horizon.

Venus rises three hours, forty-two minutes before the sun at Chicago’s latitude and Saturn reaches the horizon twenty-three minutes later.  Without a binocular Saturn is lost as Venus rises.

After the 10th, the Ringed Wonder, returning to the morning sky with Venus next year, sets before Venus rises.

Through a telescope at 4:40 a.m. CDT, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is centerstage in the southern hemisphere. Jupiter’s moon Io, silhouetted against the planet, is to the lower right of the spot.

One hour before sunrise, the bright moon, 71% illuminated, is high in the south-southwest, with Taurus, 11.2° to the upper right of Aldebaran, the Bull’s brightest star, and 6.8° below Elnath, the northern horn.  The lunar orb is bright enough to blot out the fainter stars.  Block the moon with your hand to see them.  A binocular helps to locate the southern horn, Zeta Tauri, the Hyades star cluster, and the Pleiades star cluster.

Aldebaran and the Hyades make the Bull’s head, with Aldebaran marking an eye.  The Pleiades ride on the animal’s back.

Bright Jupiter is 17.1° below the Pleiades, 12.9° to the left of Hamal, Aries’ brightest star, and 11.2° to the upper right of Menkar, Cetus’ nostril.  The Jovian Giant is retrograding slowly moving toward an imaginary line from Hamal to Menkar.

Chart Caption – 2023, October 4: During morning twilight, Venus approaches Regulus in the east.

At this hour, brilliant Venus is in the eastern sky, near Regulus, Leo’s brightest star.  The planet is the brightest starlike body in the sky this morning, easily mistaken for an airplane.  It is nearly 30° above the east-southeast horizon, 4.9° to the upper right of the star.  Venus passes by in five mornings.

Thirty-five minutes before daybreak, bright Mercury is less than 5° above the east cardinal direction.  Use a binocular to find it.  The planet continues a retreat into bright sunlight after its best morning appearance of the year.  While these articles bade the speedy planet a formal farewell a few mornings ago, Mercury aficionados can continue to track it a few more days before the sky is too bright to see it.

Evening Sky

Photo Caption – 2007, December 1: Late winter in the northern hemisphere shows clouds above the northern polar cap and some above the southern cap. (NASA Photo)

Mars is not visible as it sets about 30 minutes after sunset. 

Chart Caption – 2023, October 4: After sundown, Saturn is in the southeastern sky near Skat and Lambda Aquarii (λ Aqr).

An hour after the sun sets, Saturn is nearly 25° above the southeast horizon.  At this hour, it is the third brightest starlike body in the sky after Arcturus and Vega.

The planet is retrograding in front of Aquarius’ distant stars, 10.2° to the upper right of Skat, the Aquarian’s leg, and 10.7° to the right of Lambda Aquarii (λ Aqr).  Use a binocular to see the planet with the stars, although they are outside the field of view that has the planet.  Start at Saturn and move the binocular the appropriate directions to see them.

Saturn is south about four hours after sundown.  By tomorrow morning it is low in the west-southwest haze as Venus rises.

Bright Jupiter rises eighty-four minutes after sundown.  By three hours after nightfall, the Jovian Giant is nearly 25° up in the east.  As the new calendar day begins, the planet is less than halfway up in the east-southeast.  The moon is about 15° up in the east-northeast at this hour.  Tomorrow morning, Jupiter is in the west-southwest.


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