With apologies to Ronnie Dunn:
Oh, but I’ll be alright
As long as there’s light
From a [teapot] moon
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:41 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:29 p.m. CST. 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
Here is today’s planet forecast:
An hour before sunrise, brilliant Venus is the lone bright planet in the sky. It gleams from the southeast, nearly 30° above the horizon. It steps eastward in front of Virgo, 1.9° to the upper right of Porrima, also known as Gamma Virginis. Tomorrow, Venus passes 1.2° from the star.
Venus is on course to pass Spica, Virgo’s brightest star, on the 29th. Beginning a week before the conjunction, Venus appears within 10° of the star.
Venus rises eight minutes shy of four hours. The rising time interval between Venus rising and sunrise is shortening less than five minutes each week. In a month, Venus loses nearly thirty minutes of rising time compared to sunrise. This means the planet is lower in the sky each morning. By the end of the year, it rises less than three hours before daybreak.
Jupiter is not visible at this hour. At two hours before sunrise, the Jovian Giant is less than 10° above the western horizon and over 150° from Venus. The Venus-Jupiter opposition occurs December 10th. After this date, Jupiter sets before Venus rises.
Mercury and Mars are not visible. At sundown, Mercury is 5° up in the southwest. The planet is bright, but difficult to locate, even with a binocular. It sets about forty minutes after the sun. Mars is at solar conjunction tomorrow. Then it begins a slow climb into the eastern morning sky to meet Mercury during late January and Venus during February.
One hour after sunset, the crescent moon, Saturn, and Jupiter are along the arc of the ecliptic – the solar system’s plane.
The moon, 14% illuminated, is over 10° up in the southwest in the middle of Sagittarius. A pattern of eight stars resembles a teapot and surrounds the lunar orb. From a spot with a clear view of the scene, use a binocular to trace out the pot.
With the binocular look for earthshine on the night portion of the moon between the lunar cusps or horns. This is from sunlight reflected from Earth’s oceans, clouds, and land that softly lights the lunar night. This effect is visible for the next few evenings.
Later tonight, tomorrow evening (November 17th) in western Australia and Indonesia, the moon occults or eclipses the star Tau Sagittarii (τ Sgr on the chart) in the handle.
Farther eastward, Saturn is over 30° up in the south-southeast. Moving eastward against Aquarius, it is generally moving toward Skat, the Aquarian’s leg, and Lambda Aquarii (λ Aqr on the chart). Use a binocular to see these stars and Deneb Algedi, meaning “the kid’s tail,” 6.8° to the lower right of the planet. The star Fomalhaut is nearly 20° to the lower left of the planet.
Jupiter, nearly 20° above the east horizon, is the brightest starlike body in the sky tonight, until Venus rises tomorrow morning. The planet is retrograding against Aries, 11.4° to the lower right of Hamal, the Ram’s brightest star, and 12.7° above Menkar, the Sea Monster’s nostril.
Jupiter’s retrograde continues until year’s end. The planet continues to move westward from an imaginary line that connects Hamal and Menkar.
This evening, the moon sets over two hours after the sun. Saturn is south about the time of moonset and sets around midnight. Jupiter is south before midnight and is visible in the western sky when Venus becomes visible in the eastern sky tomorrow morning.
- 2023, December 19: A Scorpion Fumble, Moon MidwayDecember 19, 2023: Before sunrise, Venus appears below the Scorpion’s claws. After sundown, the moon is nearly midway from Saturn to Jupiter.
- 2023, December 18: Pinched VenusDecember 18, 2023: Look for Venus between the Scorpion’s claws in the southeast before sunrise. The thick crescent moon is in the evening sky with Jupiter and Saturn.
- 2023, December 17: Celestial PairsDecember 17, 2023: Before sunrise, Venus passes Zubenelgenubi, a planet-star conjunction. After sundown, Saturn and crescent moon are paired, a planet-moon conjunction.
- 2023, December 16: Venus Clawed, Evening Crescent Nears SaturnDecember 16, 2023: Before daybreak, Venus is above the Scorpion’s southern claw. After nightfall, the crescent moon nears Saturn.
- 2023, December 15: Brilliant Morning Star, Evening Lunar CrescentDecember 15, 2023: Before sunrise, brilliant Venus approaches Zubenelgenubi, the Scorpion’s southern claw. The crescent moon returns to the western evening sky.