2023, October 19: Poured Moon, See Planet Uranus

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


by Jeffrey L. Hunt

Chicago, Illinois:  Sunrise, 7:07 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 6:03 p.m. CDT.  Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times. Times are calculated by the US Naval Observatory’s MICA computer program.

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

See this week’s highlights article.

Here is today’s planet forecast:

Morning Sky

Chart Caption – 2023, October 19: Jupiter retrogrades in front of Aries in the western sky during morning twilight.

Two bright planets, Venus and Jupiter, are visible before daybreak.  Brilliant Venus, stepping eastward in front of Leo, is about 30° up in the east-southeast.  It is 9.4° to the lower left of Regulus, Leo’s brightest star.  Use a binocular to spot it 2.9° to the lower left of Rho Leonis (ρ Leo on the chart).  The planet’s next conjunction is with Chertan in four mornings.  Venus passes nearly 10° from the star.

Bright Jupiter is in the west, nearly the same altitude – height above the horizon – as Venus.  It is the second brightest starlike body in the sky this morning.  Sometimes it is dimmer than Mars when the Red Planet is near Earth.

Jupiter is retrograding in front of Aries, 12.2° to the left of Hamal, the constellation’s brightest star, and 11.3° to the upper right of Menkar, the Sea Monster’s nostril.

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

During retrograde, a planet appears to move westward against the distant stars.  As Earth overtakes and passes between the planet and the sun, the line of sight that normally moves eastward against the stars, stops and begins to move westward.  The effect is an optical illusion caused by our faster-moving planet.

Chart Caption – 2023, October 19: Through a binocular, find planet Uranus in an Aries’ starfield.

Planet Uranus is between Jupiter and the Pleiades star cluster.  The planet is fairly easy to locate, about midway from Jupiter to the stellar bundle through a binocular.  Jupiter and the cluster are too far away for each to fit into the same field of view with Uranus.

Point the binocular about midway between them and find the starfield that contains 63, 65, Delta (δ), Zeta (ζ), and Tau (τ) in Aries.  See the accompanying chart.

Uranus is distinctly dimmer than the reference stars and aquamarine in color.  The planet’s globe is revealed through a telescope.

Photo Caption – Mercury as Never Seen Before. (NASA photo)

Mercury nears its superior conjunction.  It is bathed in bright sunlight, rising only six minutes before the sun.

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)

Like Mercury, Mars is immersed in bright evening twilight.  This evening it sets only twenty-four minutes after sundown.

Chart Caption – 2023, October 19: The moon is near Sagittarius after sundown.

The crescent moon, 25% illuminated, is about 15° up in the west-southwest after sunset. As the sky darkens, look for Sagittarius, resembling a tea pot.  This evening the moon looks like it is poured from the pot’s spout.

Photo Caption – The main panel of this graphic contains X-ray data from Chandra (blue) depicting hot gas that was blown away from massive stars near the black hole. Two images of infrared light at different wavelengths from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope show stars (orange) and cool gas (purple). These images are seven light years across at the distance of Sgr A*. A pull-out shows the new EHT image, which is only about 1.8 x 10-5 light years across (0.000018 light years, or about 10 light minutes). (Credit :NASA (EHT Collaboration))

The lunar orb is in the general direction of the Milky Way’s center, over 25,000 light years away. A year ago, a radio map of the region was publicized, showing a long-theorized black hole there. The galactic core is not visible to us because gas, dust, and stars block its view.  In Sagittarius’ direction, the plane of the galaxy widens suggesting that the center is in that direction.

Use a binocular to find the Cat’s Eyes, Shaula and Lesath, on the Scorpion’s tail.  They are fading into evening twilight.  They return to the morning sky next year.

Chart Caption – 2023, October 19: An hour after sunset, Saturn is in the southeast.

An hour after sundown, look for Saturn nearly 30° up in the southeast.  It is not as bright as Venus or Jupiter, but it outshines most of the stars this evening.  It retrogrades in front of Aquarius, 6.9° to the left of Deneb Algedi, Capricornus’ tail.

This weekend, seek out an astronomy club telescope night or one held by a science museum.  Be sure to see Saturn and its rings.

During the night, the Ringed Wonder is farther west, setting in the west-southwest over four hours before sunrise and when Venus rises.

Chart Caption – 2023, October 19: Two hours after sunset, Jupiter and Capella are in the eastern sky.

Two hours after sunset, Jupiter is nearly 15° up in the east, to the lower left of Hamal and upper right of the Pleiades.  Look for Capella, low in the north-northeast.

The star is the fourth brightest star from the mid-northern latitudes, noticeably brighter than Saturn, but dimmer than Jupiter this evening.  It shines from over 40 light years away with an intensity of nearly 150 suns.

As midnight approaches, Jupiter is about halfway up in the east-southeast.  By tomorrow morning it is in the western sky as Venus gleams near Leo.


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