June 3, 2023: The Strawberry moon rises in the southeast after sunset. Venus steps into the Cancer to the upper left of Pollux.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 5:17 a.m. CDT; Sunset, 8:21 p.m. CDT. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location. Times are calculated by the U.S. Naval Observatory’s MICA computer program.
Here is today’s planet forecast:
Two hours before sunrise, the bright nearly-full moon is in the southwest, near Dschubba – the Scorpion’s forehead. The separation is 1.9°. From southern South America, New Zealand, and Australia, the moon occults or eclipses the star.
Reddish Antares, the Scorpion’s heart that means “the rival of Mars,” is 8.6° to the upper left of the lunar orb.
To see the stars near the moon, block the moon’s glare with your hand, in a similar fashion to blocking the sun during the day. The moon sets less than an hour before daybreak.
About the time when the moon is very low in the southwest, Jupiter and Saturn are farther eastward.
Saturn is easier to locate, about 30° up in the southeast. It does not dazzle the eye like Venus or Jupiter, although it is among the brightest stars in the sky this morning. The Ringed Wonder rises four hours before the sun and it is nicely placed for easy viewing.
The star Fomalhaut – meaning “the mouth of the southern fish” – is nearly 20° to Saturn’s lower right and almost 10° above the horizon.
Bright Jupiter becomes easier to spot each morning. It rises nearly two hours before the sun and is less than 10° above the eastern horizon. Find a location to see the horizon in that direction.
Thirty minutes later, Mercury is visible through a binocular over 5° above the east-northeast horizon and nearly 15° to the lower left of Jupiter. The speedy planet is washed out by the approaching dawn. This appearance of the planet is very unfavorable for viewing. The plane of the solar system makes a shallow angle with the horizon and Mercury is below it.
The moon reaches its Full (Strawberry) moon phase at 10:42 p.m. CDT. It rises a few minutes after sunset, appearing low in the southeast an hour later.
The Full moon rises in the eastern sky at sunset. It appears in the southern sky around midnight as our planet rotates. It sets in the western sky around sunrise. This occurs with any celestial body that is opposite the sun.
When the outer planets are near opposition, they are closest to Earth and brightest in the sky.
Antares is opposite the sun and seems to move with the moon across the sky this evening. The heart of the Scorpion is 3.1° to the upper right of the lunar orb this evening. It might be difficult to see with the moon’s glare. To see the Scorpion, block the moon with your hand.
The moon is bright enough to illuminate the ground for a nighttime walk without the help of a flashlight.
With the bright moon in the eastern sky, Venus gleams brilliantly in the west near the Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux. The Evening Star is 6.5° to the upper left of Pollux, and it steps into Cancer this evening.
Venus continues to brighten during this month. The planet easily outshines all other starlike bodies in the sky, yet its change in brightness across several weeks is easy to notice. Look at least once a week for the next two months to note its visual intensity.
Considerably dimmer Mars is 9.8° to the upper left of Venus. It is marching eastward against Cancer’s dim stars. Through a binocular, Mars is to the upper left of the Beehive cluster, also known as the Praesepe or manger. Two donkeys, Asellus Australis and Asellus Borealis, are near the manger.
Venus continues to close the gap to Mars. In several evenings both fit into the same binocular field of view.