2023, October 15: Three Bright Planets

Venus in Leo, October 16, 2020
2020, October 16: Venus shines brightly in the eastern sky in front of the stars of Leo. In the starfield, the planet is 1.2° below Chi Leonis (χ Leo), 3.0° to the upper right of Sigma Leonis (σ Leo), and 5.3° to the right of Iota Leo (ι Leo). Denebola – the Tail of Leo – is over 12° to the lower left of the planet.


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:03 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:10 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times. Times are calculated by the US Naval Observatory’s MICA computer program.

The length of daylight approaches eleven hours.  Today, the sun shines for seven minutes longer than that hourly mark.  No day from Chicago’s latitude this year has that exact length.  On the 17th and 18th, daylight is either a minute shorter or longer than that even number.

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 15: Brilliant Venus is in the eastern sky before sunrise in front of Leo’s distant stars.

That bright star in the east during morning twilight is Venus.  It outshines all other starlike bodies this morning.

The planet is stepping eastward against Leo’s distant stars, 5.8° below Regulus, the pattern’s brightest star.  The Venus-Regulus conjunction occurred nearly a week ago.

Chart Caption – 2023, October 15 Through a binocular, Venus nears Rho Leonis (ρ Leo) with Regulus near the top of the field of view.

Tomorrow Regulus passes the star Rho Leonis (ρ Leo on the chart).  Use a binocular to see the star’s proximity to the Morning Star.  Regulus fits snugly into the same field of view with them. Note Venus’ location during the next few mornings as it passes Rho and moves away toward the east.

Through a telescope, the planet shows a morning crescent phase, 46% illuminated.  The planet is wrapped in clouds, so no surface features are visible with traditional telescopes.

Chart Caption – 2023, October 15: Jupiter is in the western sky nearly between Hamal and Menkar.

Farther westward, bright Jupiter is less than halfway up in the western sky.  It is the second brightest starlike body this morning.

Chart Caption – Jupiter’s retrograde motion against the starfield is demonstrated for 2023.

The Jovian Giant is retrograding, appearing to move westward compared to the background stars, 12.4° to the left of Hamal, Aries’ brightest star, and 11.3° to the upper right of Menkar, Cetus brightest star.  The planet is over 18° below the Pleiades star cluster.

Watch Jupiter approach an imaginary line from Hamal to Menkar.  It crosses that line on the 28th.

Mercury continues its retreat into bright sunlight.  It is not easily seen, rising only eighteen minutes before sunrise.

Evening Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, October 15: An hour after sundown, Saturn is in the southeast.

Just like Mercury, Mars is not visible because it is in bright evening twilight after sunset.  It sets only twenty-seven minutes after the sun.

An hour after sundown, Saturn, retrograding in front of Aquarius, is nearly 30° up in the southeast, 7.0° to the left of Deneb Algedi, the tail of Capricornus.

Fomalhaut, the mouth of the Southern Fish, is nearly 20° below the Ringed Wonder.

Saturn is in the south over three hours after nightfall.  It sets in the west over four hours before sunrise and before Venus rises.

Chart Caption – 2023, October 15: Two hours after sunset, Jupiter is in the eastern sky.

Jupiter rises fifty-five minutes after sundown and theoretically, it is visible low in the eastern sky an hour after sundown.  The planet is bright enough to be seen when it is near the horizon.

Two hours after sundown, Jupiter is over 10° up in the east.  It is about halfway up in the east-southeast as the calendar day ends.  Tomorrow morning the planet is in the western sky when Venus is in the eastern sky before daybreak.


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