by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:54 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:22 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times. Times are calculated by the US Naval Observatory’s MICA computer program.
For the October 14th solar eclipse, an easy way to observe its progress is to sit under a tree. The annular or “ring of fire” eclipse is visible across a narrow path from America’s Pacific coast to the Gulf of Mexico. Other regions see a partial eclipse. Without undue warnings, please do not look directly at the sun anytime.
Notice the spots of light under a tree on any sunny day. The overlapping leaves and branches create pin holes, like that of a pinhole projector, made by tiny holes poked through aluminum foil. Sunlight shines through those holes and makes tiny images of the sun on the ground. During the eclipse, the images become crescents as the eclipse progresses.
While trees in more northern locations may have lost their leaves, the overlapping branches may create the pinholes needed to see the crescents.
Summaries of Current Sky Events
Summary for Venus as a Morning Star, 2023-24
Here is today’s planet forecast:
In three mornings, the Venus-Saturn opposition occurs. The two planets are 180° apart in the sky. Venus rises as Saturn sets. For several mornings Saturn has been in the haze near the horizon, perhaps visible through a binocular.
This morning, the Morning Star rises three hours, forty-six minutes before the sun and Saturn is quite low in the west-southwest, visible only with the optical aid. The thicker air near the horizon blurs, reddens, and dims celestial objects.
By an hour before daybreak, the thick crescent moon, 41% illuminated, is high in the east-southeast, 1.7° to the lower right of Pollux, one of the Gemini Twins. The lunar orb continues to step eastward each morning.
The moon appears near Venus and Regulus in three mornings. This morning the crescent is over 35° above the brilliant planet.
Venus is nearly 30° above the horizon and 2.9° to the right of Regulus. Their conjunction occurs in two mornings.
At this hour, Jupiter is about 40° above the west-southwest horizon. It continues to retrograde in front of Aries, 12.8° to the left of Hamal, the constellation’s brightest star, 11.2° to the upper right of Menkar, the Sea Monster’s nostril, and 17.4° below the Pleiades star cluster, part of Taurus.
The planet is retrograding as Earth overtakes the more-distant planet. Earth passes between the sun and Jupiter after midnight on November 3rd. Jupiter rises at sunset, appears high in the southern sky near midnight, and sets at sunrise. It is opposite the sun, in the same way that Venus and Saturn are nearly opposite.
Earlier this morning at 2:09 a.m. CDT, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is visible through a telescope at the center of the planet in the southern hemisphere. The long-lived atmospheric disturbance is on the Earth-facing side of the planet for over an hour before and after its prime viewing time.
Bright Mercury is retreating into bright sunlight. Rising fifty-one minutes before the sun, it is only 3° above the horizon at thirty minutes before daybreak.
Mars is not visible, setting about thirty minutes after the sun.
One hour after sunset, Saturn is nearly 25° above the southeast horizon. The Ringed Wonder passed opposition August 27th and it continues to retrograde in front of Aquarius. It is 7.3° to the left of Deneb Algedi, Capricornus’ tail. Saturn and the star snugly fit into the same binocular field of view.
Look for Fomalhaut, the mouth of the Southern Fish, over 5° above the horizon and about 20° below Saturn.
Saturn is south less than four hours after sundown and disappears into the haze above the west-southwest horizon before Venus rises.
Jupiter rises in the east-northeast seventy-seven minutes after sundown. As the calendar day ends, it is over halfway up in the east-southeast. Tomorrow morning during twilight, it is in the west-southwest.
At 10 p.m. CDT, the Great Red Spot is at center stage again, two Jupiter days after this morning’s show.
- 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.