2023, October 13: Moon’s Last Glimpse, Bright Morning Planets

Venus in Leo, October 8, 2020
2020, October 8: Venus passes 0.5° to the upper left of ρ Leo.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:01 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:13 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

Tomorrow the moon’s shadow races across the western hemisphere.  From the darkest shadow, the moon nearly covers the sun, but leaves a ring or annulus of the sun around its circumference.  In recent years, this eclipse has been called a “ring of fire.”

2017: Great American Solar Eclipse – The corona is visible.

During this decade, twenty-two eclipses occur.  Eight of the eclipses are only partial, where no place on Earth experiences a total eclipse when the moon completely covers the sun and the corona is visible.  Six are total, with the next one occurring April 8, 2024. Seven are annular, and one is a hybrid.  Part of the eclipse track has a total eclipse and other regions see an annular type.

Chart Caption – 2023, October 14: From Memphis, Tennessee, the moon covers 60% of the sun at maximum eclipse.

Sky watchers outside tomorrow’s annular eclipse track see a partial eclipse.  From Memphis, Tennessee, observers see the moon cover 60% of the sun at 12:01 p.m. CDT.

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 13: Venus is in the eastern sky near Regulus and Rho Leonis (ρ Leo) before daybreak.

An hour before sunrise, brilliant Venus is 30° above the east-southeast horizon.  It can be simply described as “that bright star” in the eastern sky before sunrise. It continues to step eastward in front of Leo’s distant stars, 4.1° below Regulus, the constellation’s brightest star.  As the planet continues its eastward trek, it is moving toward Rho Leonis, ρ Leo on the chart.  It passes the dimmer star on the 16th.

Venus, Regulus, and Rho fit snugly into the same binocular field.  Watch Venus motion compared to the starfield each clear morning.

Leo is a westward-facing Lion.  Its stars somewhat resemble a stick figure.  Regulus is at the bottom of a backwards question mark, traditionally known as the “Sickle of Leo” and resembles the farm implement for cutting grain.  To the lower left of Regulus, the haunches and tail are dotted by a triangle, with the tail star, Denebola, at the eastern vertex.

Chart Caption – 2023, October 13: Jupiter is in the western sky during morning twilight.

At this hour, bright Jupiter is in the western sky.  It is nearly the same altitude – height above the horizon – as Venus.  The two planets are over 110° apart in the sky.  The gap continues to open until December when Jupiter sets as Venus rises.  Then they are 180° apart.

Jupiter continues to retrograde in front of Aries’ distant stars, 12.5° to the left of Hamal, the Ram’s brightest star, and 11.3° to the upper right of Menkar, the Sea Monster’s nostril.  The planet slowly approaches an imaginary line between the two stars.

Chart Caption – 2023, October 13: The moon is near the eastern horizon at 45 minutes before sunrise.

At 45 minutes before daybreak, look for a razor-thin crescent moon, 1% illuminated, nearly 5° up in the east.  This is the last glimpse of a lighted moon before tomorrow’s eclipse and New moon phase. Use a binocular to initially locate the lunar orb.

Mercury retreats into bright sunlight, rising only twenty-seven minutes before the sun.  It reaches superior conjunction after midnight on the 20th.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, October 13: Saturn is in the southeast after sundown, near Deneb Algedi and above Fomalhaut.

Mars is not visible, setting less than thirty minutes after the sun.  It reaches solar conjunction November 17th.

One hour after sundown, Saturn is nearly 30° above the southeast horizon. The planet is brighter than most stars in the sky this evening, but not with the dazzling appearance of Venus or Jupiter.

The planet is retrograding in front of Aquarius, 7.1° to the left of Deneb Algedi, Capricornus’ tail.  The Ringed Wonder and the star tightly fit into the same binocular field of view.

Jupiter rises sixty-one minutes after sunset.  About an hour later, it is over 10° above the eastern horizon. As the calendar day ends, the bright planet is over halfway up in the east-southeast.  Tomorrow morning it is in the western sky.

The Jovian Giant rises earlier each evening and appears closer to the western horizon during morning twilight.  It is at opposition when Earth is between the planet and the sun November 3rd.


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