June 2014

Observing With Webb June 2014

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June is a boring month as far as events go, but there are 4 naked eye planets that you can see, 3 of them right after sunset.  Plus, it’s pretty warm, making the observing much nicer.


PLANETS...well, the ones visible with your naked eye

Planets you can see around Sunset – Jupiter (W), Mars (SW), Saturn (S)

Planets you can see throughout the night – Mars (SWàW), Saturn (SàW)

Planets you can see in the Morning – Venus (E)


Mercury – Not really visible this month.


Venus Venus will be very bright again this month in the morning toward the East.  It rises pretty much after 4:00am and is about 20˚ above the horizon by sunrise. Closest to the Moon on the 24th. 


Mars – Look in the SW after sunset or in the West before 2am and look for the visibly red “star”.  It’s hanging out in Virgo this month.  Close to the Moon on the 7th. 


Jupiter – Jupiter is out until about 10pm.  Look W after sunset for the brightest “star” currently right next to Gemini.  Close to the crescent Moon on the 1st and 29th.


Saturn – Look in the South after sunset for the bright point that is Saturn, which moves to the west and sets around 3am. Closest to the Moon on the 10th. Try taking out your binoculars or telescope to find the rings at its side. 



First Quarter Moon – 5th (Visible until midnight)


7thClose EncounterMars, Moon – Check out the Gibbous Moon in the South.  Mars will be about 2˚ above it and very red.


10thClose Encounter – Moon, Saturn – Look to the SE after sunset and you can see a Gibbous Moon, with Saturn about 4˚ up and to the right of it. If you live in the southernmost parts of Africa, you can actually watch the Moon occult or pass in front of Saturn!


Full Moon – 13th (Visible all night)


Last Quarter Moon – 19th (Visible from midnight into the morning)


21stSummer Solstice – This is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.  There’s a bit of explanation as to why here.


24thClose Encounter – Moon, Venus – Before sunrise, look to the East and find a thin crescent Moon. Venus will be about 2˚ to the left of the Moon, making a very nice morning pair worthy of a picture.  The Pleiades are hanging out up and to the left, visible only around 4am until dawn starts.


New Moon – 27th (darkest skies)


29thClose Encounter – Moon, Jupiter – At sunset, you may be able to see Jupiter about 12˚ to the right of the moon.  Probably hard to find since dusk is pretty bright.


CONSTELLATIONS... (see sky map link at the bottom for a Star Map for this month – or ask Mr. Webb)    Look straight up and you'll see...

After Sunset (sunset is around 8:30pm)Bootes (The shepherd, kite, or ice cream cone).  You can follow the arc of the Big Dipper’s handle to get to its brightest star Arcturus.

MidnightHerculesExtra Challenge! Look for M13, the Hercules Cluster in between two of Hercules’ “keystone” stars.  It known as the best globular cluster in the northern skies.  It will be a fuzzy spot in binoculars and will be even cooler through a telescope

Early MorningLyra, Cygnus, Lacerta – These are the Summer constellations, and since they are starting to rise in the morning now, that means that summer is on its way. Extra Challenge! Look for M57, the Ring Nebula in between two of Lyra’s stars.  It is 2,300 light years away, which means we’re seeing what it looked like 2,300 years ago.  The shell that you see is the remnants of the central star that blew up some 20,000 years ago.  It has a donut-like appearance through a telescope.  It’ll be easy to find, but tough to see in binoculars, so get the scope out for this one.



Spring constellations:  Bootes, Virgo, Leo, Corona Borealis, Hercules. 

First find the Big Dipper in the North (a North Circumpolar Asterism that never sets) and look at the handle.  Starting at the star closest to the “cup” part, follow the rest of the stars in the handle and follow the arc to Arcturus.  Arcturus is the brightest star in Bootes the Shepherd.  Some say he looks more like a kite, others say more like an ice cream cone. 

Then, following the same “arc”, speed on to Spica.  Spica is the brightest star in Virgo.  Virgo’s a dimmer constellation, so you’ll be rewarded when you find her. 

To the left of Bootes is Corona Borealis.  This is a small collection of stars that make a crown, cup, or U shape in the sky. 

To the left of Corona Borealis is the great constellation of Hercules.  Hercules is the Hero of the sky and has a central “keystone” asterism, in which lies M13, the Hercules Cluster. 

Lastly, Leo is a constellation consisting of a backward question mark (or sickle) and a right triangle to the left.  Use the two Big Dipper “cup” stars that are in the middle of the Big Dipper and follow the line they make to the bright star Regulus, the brightest star in Leo.

Use a sky map from www.skymaps.com to help you out.