June 2015

To see a video of this information, go to my YouTube Channel

 

June is spectacular month for those who enjoy watching dusk turn into night, given that Venus and Jupiter are very bright in the West at that time and get closer and closer together until their conjunction on June 30th.  The Moon also joins the Western skies party on the 19th and 20th, with the Summer Solstice happening mid-month as well.

 

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

Planets you can see around Sunset – Venus (W), Jupiter (W),

Planets you can see throughout the night – Saturn (SEàSW)

Planets you can see in the Morning – Maybe Mercury at the end of June (E)

 

Mercury – It doesn’t look like it’s going to be easy to see, but you could try at sunrise later in the month with the help of star maps or apps.

VENUS Look West after sunset and it will be the first “star” you see, shining brilliantly in the evening twilight until about 10:30pm.  If you have binoculars or a telescope, you may be able to see the half-lit-turning-into-crescent phase of Venus. Close to the Moon on the 19th and 20th.  Very close to Jupiter on the 30th.

Mars – Not visible all Month – is on the opposite side of the Sun.

JUPITER – Find Venus in the West after sunset, then go up and to the left to find another very bright object which is Jupiter.  Throughout the month, Jupiter will be creeping closer and closer to Venus until they are only ½˚ apart on the 30th (that’s less than the width of your pinky at arm’s length away.) Don’t forget the binoculars or telescope for the Galilean Moons and the cloud bands on its surface.  Close to the Moon on the night of the 19th and 20th. 

SATURN – Saturn is already in the SE after sunset and moves across the sky to the West and sets by about 4am. Close to the Moon on the 1st and very close to the Moon (1˚) on the 28th.

EVENTS...

1stClose Encounter – Moon, Saturn – Get out after sunset and look East for a full Moon with Saturn 3˚ up and to the right. By 5am, they’ll be in the West setting. 

Full Moon – 2nd (Visible all night)            

Last Quarter Moon – 9th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

New Moon – 16th (darkest skies)

19th – 20thClose Encounter – Moon, Venus, Jupiter – Get out around sunset again and wait until you can see either the first “star” which is Venus, or the thin crescent Moon. On the 19th, Venus will be right above the Moon, with Jupiter about the same distance from Venus, but up and to the left.  On the 20th, the Moon switches sides and is to the left and below Jupiter. Be sure to see this before they all set around 10:30pm. 

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

First Quarter Moon – 24th (Visible until midnight)

28thClose Encounter – Moon, Saturn – Get out after sunset and look East for an almost full Moon with Saturn 1˚ below. By 3am, they’ll be further apart and in the West setting.

30thCONJUNCTION – Venus, Jupiter – Get out around sunset again and wait until you can see the first “star” which is Venus.  Jupiter will only be about ½˚ above Venus, making these easily seen in binoculars together, possibly even able to be photographed together. This doesn’t happen often, so get out there!

 

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.

 

GENERAL CONSTELLATION FINDING TIPS: 

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.

 

 



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