February 22, 2023: After sunset, Venus, Jupiter, and the crescent Moon will converge in the west-southwest. Look for it 45 minutes after sunset.
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By Jeffrey L Hunt
Chicago, IL: Sunrise, 6:37 a.m. CST; Sunset, 5:32 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location. Times calculated from the US Naval Observatory mica Computer program.
Transit times of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, when it is in the center of the planet in the Southern Hemisphere: 3:41 UT, 13:36 UT, 23:32 UT. Convert the time to your timezone. In the US, subtract five hours for EST, six hours for CST, and so on. Use the telescope to see the spot. times of Sky and telescope magazine.
This evening, Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon are in the same region of the sky. It is the most beautiful of the three night scenes. Sometimes Mars is brighter than Jupiter when the red planet is close to Earth. However, Jupiter is consistently brighter than Mars.
As shown in the evening section, the gathering of the three celestial bodies occurs in the west and southwest after sunset. How often does this happen and are they very close to each other?
Two nights earlier, Venus moved within 10 degrees of Jupiter and stayed in that range until March 11th. At this range, the lunar orb completes a large arc in its orbital path. So, there is a fairly high probability that all three will appear close to each other.
This evening, the three of them almost fit into the binocular field of view. Venus and Jupiter at the edges of the field with a piece of the crescent moon. The full moon and Jupiter are suitable, but not three of them.
One way to classify an aggregation is to consider the smallest circle containing all three. The binoculars make a circular image, not the mask effect shown in the movies. Two eyes look at the same area of the sky, not at two adjacent spots. Search through a cardboard tube that restricts the field to different sizes using different lengths.
The Moon does not appear as a point of light like Venus and Jupiter. Diameter is an additional factor.
To consider the question, a survey was made of the future conjunction of Venus and Jupiter, along with their vision. Four conjunctions occur too close to the Sun to be reasonably observed and are ruled out. Next, the three object clusters were scanned near the conjunctions times.
The survey was further constrained by measuring the size of the gathering in Chicago, Illinois, at about 45 minutes after sunset. The smallest circular shaft is dedicated to this site, but it makes a reasonable starting point for any place in the Americas.
The list below summarizes future affiliations and groupings.
|Pairing date||Assembly date||time||the smallest circle|
|March 1, 2023||February 22, 2023||evening||7.6 degrees|
|May 23, 2024||very close to the sun|
|August 12, 2025||August 20, 2025||morning||8.9 degrees|
|June 9, 2026||June 17, 2026||evening||7.4 degrees|
|August 25, 2027||very close to the sun|
|November 9, 2029||November 14, 2029||morning||10.7 degrees|
|September 8, 2029||September 10, 2029||evening||7.6 degrees|
|November 20, 2030||very close to the sun|
|February 6, 2032||February 9, 2032||morning||7.7 degrees|
|December 7, 2032||December 5, 2032||evening||9.5 degrees|
|February 22, 2034||February 19, 2034||evening||3.4 degrees|
|May 17, 2035||very close to the sun|
|March 25, 2036||March 30, 2036||evening||12.2 degrees|
|July 22, 2036||July 20, 2036||morning||4.9 degrees|
The smallest circle, 3.4°, in the near future occurs on February 22, 2034. However, the Moon is less than 1% illuminated and close to the Sun. Only 20 minutes after sunset, we need binoculars and very clear skies.
At the July 20, 2036 gathering, Venus, Jupiter, and a crescent moon were in the eastern sky during morning twilight. It covers a circle with a diameter of 4.9 degrees and can easily be placed in a microscope. This occurs near Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster in Taurus. The bright star is 4.1 degrees to the upper right of Venus.
Three corpse gatherings are not uncommon, occurring about every two years. Certainly, they are more frequent than the US presidential elections or the Olympic Games. Seeing them clustered so closely, in the binocular field of view is a rare occurrence. Mark your calendar for the July 20th, 2036 rally!
Here are the forecasts for today’s planet:
The morning sky is empty of a bright planet. Mercury continues its glide in the sunlight. The swift rises only thirty-two minutes before sunrise, washed by the light of the approaching dawn.
This evening, Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon gather in the west-southwest after sunset. The bright planet Venus is located 20 degrees above the horizon 45 minutes after sunset. Bright Jupiter lies 7.2 degrees to the left of Venus.
The 10% illuminated Moon is 1.3° to the lower left of Jupiter.
The night part of the Moon shows the gentle light of Earth’s rays, sunlight reflected from Earth’s oceans, clouds, and land.
Capture this scene with a camera on a tripod with exposures ranging from a split second to a few seconds.
Venus continues to pass Jupiter by about 1° each night, passing on March 1St. Watch this changing landscape each clear evening as Venus closes the gap and the Moon recedes.
High in the South, Mars marches east with Taurus in the stellar background. Watch it pass between Elnath and Epsilon Tauri (ε Tau on the chart) over the next few evenings. Elnath and Epsilon Tauri are too far apart to fit in a binocular field, but an optical aid may be needed to spot the second star.
The red planet is heading towards Elnath, and it will pass next month.
Mars is 10.4 degrees to the upper left of Aldebaran and 6.7 degrees to the lower right of Elnath.
At 5:32 p.m. CST, time for sunset in Chicago, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot lies at the planet’s center in the Southern Hemisphere. This isn’t a good time for Chicago-area skywatchers, but those far east see the planet in an ideal spot.
The Red Spot viewing season is drawing to a close as the planet Jupiter begins to dip in the sky each evening. In about a month’s time, the planet will be low in the western sky and set during sunset.
2023, February 21: Morning sky map, evening moon, planet view
February 21, 2023: Use a sky map to find the winter morning stars. The Moon joins Venus as it approaches Jupiter. Mars is traveling east in a planetary display.
2023, February 20: Morning Hero, Evening Planet Exhibition
February 20, 2023: Hercules appears just before sunrise in the eastern sky. Venus moves within 10 degrees of Jupiter after sunset, while Mars moves east against Taurus.
2023, February 19: Morning Leo, Venus near Jupiter
February 29, 2023: Leo is in the western sky before sunrise, spending all night from east to west. After sunset, evening Venus continues to approach bright Jupiter.