June 2016

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

 

         June is looking like a good month to get out and see three of our planetary gems (Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) at great times in their orbits.  Get out your binoculars and your telescopes, it’s a planet hunting month.

 

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

Planets you can see around Sunset – Jupiter(SW), Mars & Saturn (SESW)

Planets you can see throughout the night –Jupiter (SWW), Mars & Saturn (SESW)

Planets you can see in the Morning – Mercury(NE)

 

Mercury – Difficult to see, being only about 7˚ above the northeastern horizon around dawn.  June 3rd it’s only 2˚ above a very thin crescent Moon.

Venus – Not visible – behind the Sun

Mars & Saturn– Look southeast after sunset and bring a sky map of Scorpius and Libra.  Mars has separated itself from Saturn and Antares in the constellation Scorpius, and moved into Libra.  Mars will be the bright-ish reddish light above and to the right of Scorpius, inside Libra. Saturn will be less bright than Mars, and to the left and above Antares, the brightest star in Scorpius.  They will move southward by midnight and by 3am, Mars will have set in the southwest, with Saturn just an hour behind. Note: Saturn reaches opposition this month, making this one of the best times to look at it through your telescope.  You’ll be able to see some beautiful rings tilted away from us.

Jupiter – Look southwest after sunset and Jupiter will be the very bright light below Leo the Lion. It will be setting in the W after midnight.  Get your observing of Jupiter in now. By August, it will be setting during dusk, and in September it will be behind the Sun.

 

EVENTS...

2nd – 3rdOpposition – Saturn – This is when Saturn is as big as it will be all year, and visible for almost the entire night, making this the best time of the year to observe it. Use your telescope to find the “ears” that Galileo saw over 400 years ago.

3rdClose Encounter – Moon, Mercury – Look to the East before sunrise,find the VERY thin waning crescent Moon, and see if you can find Mercury just2˚ (two pinky-widths held at arm’s length) above it.  It’s a good chance to see Mercury, since even though Mercury will be higher and brighter later in the month, the Moon is a great skymark.

New Moon – 4th (darkest skies)

11thClose Encounter – Moon & Jupiter – Jupiter and the Moon are only about 4˚ apart in the southwest after sunset and set in the West around 12:30am.

First Quarter Moon – 12th(Visible until midnight)

16th – 19thClose Encounter – Moon, Mars, Saturn –Look to the East around 10pm, and you’ll see The Moon, Mars, and Saturn making a great triangle in the sky that changes shape each night. This is visible almost the entire night, moving to the south after midnight and to the west by sunrise.   Mars is consistently about 20˚to the right of Saturn, but the Moon moves over the course of the encounter

Full Moon – 20th (Visible all night)

20thSummer Solstice – This is the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.  There’s a bit of explanation as to why here.

Last Quarter Moon – 27th (Visible from midnight into the morning)


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 int he morning now, that means that summer is on its way. Extra Challenge!L ook 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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