by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 6:54 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:22 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times. Times are calculated by the US Naval Observatory’s MICA computer program.
Here is today’s planet forecast:
The November Full moon, known as the Beaver Moon, reaches opposition with the sun at 3:16 a.m. CST, the official time of the full phase. The entire side of the moon facing Earth is brightened by the sun’s light.
At an hour before daybreak, the moon is about 15° up in the west-northwest, 9.6° to the right of Aldebaran, Taurus brightest star, and 5.3° to the upper left of the Pleiades star cluster. Use a binocular to see the cluster with the moon.
The Venus-Jupiter opposition occurs December 10th. On this morning Jupiter sets as Venus rises and they are not visible in the sky at the same time during the remainder of the Venusian apparition. During late May, there is a close conjunction of the two planets, but this occurs very close to the sun. Currently, the planets are nearly 165° apart and low in the sky when they are visible at the same time. At three hours before daybreak, both planets are 8° above their horizons. Jupiter is in the west and Venus is in the east-southeast.
An hour before sunrise, brilliant Venus is less than 30° up in the southeast, 4.9° to the upper left of Spica, Virgo’s brightest star. Venus passes Spica in a wide conjunction in two mornings. After this event, Venus continues to step eastward, heading toward Zubenelgenubi, the Scorpion’s southern claw, nearly 24° to the lower left of the planet. The star is over 5° above the horizon.
Mars rises about fifteen minutes before sunrise, lost in the sun’s glare.
Mercury is less than 10° up in the southwest at sunset. The planet sets sixty-three minutes after the sun. At 45 minutes after sunset, Mercury is less than 3° above the horizon.
One hour after sundown, the bright moon, 99% illuminated, is less than 10° above the east-northeast horizon.
Jupiter, nearly 40° to the upper right of the moon, is over 25° above the eastern horizon. The planet is retrograding in front of Aries, 11.3° to the lower right of Hamal, the constellation’s brightest star, and 13.3° above Menkar. Jupiter is west of an imaginary line between this stellar pair.
Look southward for Saturn, 35° above the southern horizon. It is moving eastward in front of Aquarius, 7.2° to the upper left of Deneb Algedi, Capricornus’ tail. The Ringed Wonder and the star tightly fit into the same binocular field of view.
Find Fomalhaut, the mouth of the Southern Fish, nearly 20° to the lower left of the planet.
Two hours after sundown, the moon is nearly 20° up in the east, 9.5° to the upper left of Aldebaran and 9.2° to the upper right of Elnath.
Capella, the third brightest star in the northern half of the sky, is over 20° to the upper left of the moon.
Saturn sets before midnight. Jupiter is low in the western sky when Venus rises. The moon is in the west before sunrise tomorrow.
- 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.