2023, October 5: Morning Moon, Star Cluster, Venus Approaches Regulus

Photo Caption – Venus – Mars conjunction, October 5, 2017.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 6:52 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:26 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

Safe solar eclipse viewing methods exist to view the event on October 14.  This annular or “ring of fire” eclipse, occurs along a track from the American Pacific coast to the Gulf of Mexico.  From most areas of North America, a partial solar eclipse is visible.

Photo Capton – Solar Eclipse Projector

The eclipse does not create the potential for eye damage, but the sun on any day can cause permanent issues with vision.  Normally, we look away from the bright sun or block it.

Photo Caption -Paper plate eclipse projector

One way to view its progress is to create the classic pinhole projector.  One way is to use a box.  Cut a small hole and cover it with aluminum foil and poke a hole through the foil with a needle.  During the eclipse orient the tiny opening toward the sun.  The sun’s image then appears inside the box.

Photo Caption, 2017, August 21: Projections of solar eclipse.

Another way that is more portable is to use an index card or a paper plate and do the same to create a tiny hole.  More eclipses appear by poking more holes. Put a white cloth on the ground and orient the holes so that the sunlight passes through them and makes images of the eclipse on the white screen.

The accompanying image is from the 2017 solar eclipse.  An index card creates a shadow.  Holes poked through aluminum foil that overlays a rectangular hole cut into the card, project the eclipses on a white piece of material.  Such arrangements allow for many people to watch the eclipse’s progress.

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 5: The gibbous moon is near Castor’s foot. Propus marks the toe, while Tejat Posterior is the heel.

Saturn is nearing its opposition with Venus.  On the 10th, the two planets are 180° apart in the sky, Venus rises as Saturn sets.  This morning, Venus rises three hours, forty-four minutes before the sun at Chicago’s latitude.  Saturn sets twenty minutes later. 

While brighter than most stars in the sky this morning, it is not exceptionally bright like Venus or Jupiter, Saturn disappears into the haze near the horizon long before Venus rises.  The Ringed Wonder might be visible with a binocular.

An hour before sunrise, the gibbous moon, 61% illuminated, is high in the south, 7.1° to the upper right of Propus, Castor’s toe.  The heel, Tejat Posterior, is nearby.

The moon reaches the morning half phase (Last Quarter) tomorrow at 5:21 p.m. CDT.  It is below the horizon across the western hemisphere at that time.

Chart Caption – 2023, October 5: The moon and star cluster Messier 35 (M 35 on the chart) are in the same binocular field.

Through a binocular the moon is visible with the star cluster Messier 35 (M 35 on the chart).  This stellar bundle is a milestone along the ecliptic, the path the planets and moon travel.  This morning the lunar orb is 4.9° to the upper right of the cluster.  To see the scene, place the moon toward the upper right edge of the field of view and the star cluster is to the lower left.  To see the cluster easier in this moonlight, move the binocular a little to the lower left so the moon leaves the field to the upper right, placing the cluster near the center of the field.

Chart Caption – 2023, October 5: Jupiter is in the west-southwest before sunrise.

Farther westward and over 45° to the lower right of the lunar orb, bright Jupiter is in the west-southwest, 12.9° to the left of Hamal, Aries’ brightest star, 11.2° to the upper right of Menkar, the Sea Monster’s nostril, and 17.2° below the Pleiades star cluster, part of Taurus.

Jupiter is retrograding in front of Aries.  This illusion is from our planet overtaking the Jovian Giant.  Earth passes between Jupiter and the sun after midnight on November 3rd.  The planet is moving toward an imaginary line from Hamal to Menkar.

Chart Caption – 2023, October 5: In the eastern sky, brilliant Venus approaches Regulus.

Farther eastward, brilliant Venus is nearly 30° above the east-southeast horizon.  It is stepping eastward toward Regulus, 4.2° to the lower left.  Venus passes by in four mornings.

The Morning Star outshines all other starlike bodies this morning.  Through a telescope the planet displays a thick morning crescent 40% illuminated. While the phase is growing, the terms waxing and waning do not appropriately describe the planet’s phase compared to the moon.  The Venusian phase resembles a waning crescent moon, but the phase its growing, not diminishing.

Watch the gap from Venus to Regulus close during the next few mornings.

Evening Sky

Photo Caption – NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope photographed Mars on July 18, 2018, during a dust storm and near its closest approach to Earth since 2003. (NASA photo)

Mars is not visible, setting about 30 minutes after the sun.

Chart Caption – 2023, October 5: Saturn is in the southeast after sundown.

An hour after sundown, Saturn is nearly 25° above the southeast horizon.  It is retrograding in front of Aquarius, 10.2° to the upper right of Skat, the Aquarian’s leg, and 10.8° to the right of Lambda Aquarii (λ Aqr on the chart).  The planet is too far away from these stars to fit into the same binocular field with them.  Saturn is now far enough westward to fit snugly into the same field of view with Deneb Algedi, the Sea Goat’s tail, 7.4° to the planet’s right.

During the night, Saturn is farther westward.  Around four hours after sundown, it is in the south, disappearing into the haze above the southwestern horizon as Venus rises.

Jupiter rises about eighty minutes after sunset.  It is in the east-southeast as the calendar day ends.  It is halfway up in the west-southwest tomorrow morning during morning twilight.

The moon rises near midnight and is again high in the southern sky before sunrise tomorrow.


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