June 2019

• June 5th, 2019

Welcome to Observing With Webb, where a high school astronomy teacher tells you what you’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what you should check out later this month…at night. 

June will be warmer, with shorter nights, but still some good events. Watch for Mercury and Mars in a conjunction mid-month, Jupiter up all night long, and some good lunar close encounters.

 

Naked-eye PLANETS...

  • Around Sunset – Mars (W) until 10:30pm – 9:30pm, Mercury (W) until 10pm
  • Throughout the night – Jupiter (SEàSàSW), Saturn (SEàSW)
  • Morning – Saturn (SW), Jupiter (SW)

Mercury

  • Makes something of an appearance this month, by starting out low on the Western horizon after sunset, setting itself around 10pm but getting a little higher each night until the last week. Make sure you have a clear horizon to the WNW, where Mars will also be making an appearance, with both planets closest together on the 18th.

Venus

  • Not really visible. You MIGHT catch it if you have binoculars pointing ENE an hour before sunrise, low on the horizon.

Mars

  • Mars is already in the W around sunset and setting a little after 10:30pm in the beginning of the month, getting lower each day until it sets around 9:30 at the end of the month. Mars will pass right by Mercury on the 18th. Bring some binoculars to help, but your naked eye should be sufficient to catch both of the planets in West after sunset until the last week of June.

Jupiter

  • Will be reaching opposition this month, meaning it’s off in the SE after sunset, passes by the South after midnight, and sets in the SW right around sunrise. Great time to get the telescope out to see the cloud bands and Galilean moons.

Saturn

  • Rising between 11pm and 9pm, Saturn will be about 30˚ to the left of Jupiter all month, hanging out in the top left of Sagittarius. If you’re up early, it’s a good time to observe its highly tilted rings, as it’s still above the horizon in the SW before sunrise.

 

EVENTS...

New Moon – 3rd (darkest skies)

First Quarter Moon – 10th (Visible until midnight)

Full Moon – 17th (Visible all night)

Last Quarter Moon – 25th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

4th/5thClose Encounter – Moon, Mars, Mercury – A VERY very thin crescent Moon will be technically visible just 5˚ to the left of Mercury and VERY low on the horizon, but you’ll probably need binoculars to catch either of them. The next night on the 5th, the Moon will be higher and a tad thicker and now 5˚ up and to the left of Mars, making a nice string of objects – Moon, Mars, Mercury.

16th – 19th – Close Encounter – Moon, Jupiter, Saturn – Get out after sunset on the 16th to find the Moon only 4˚ down and to the left of Jupiter.  Watch them travel together throughout the night to the West by sunrise. The next night, the Moon will move to be almost directly in the middle between Jupiter and Saturn. The 18th is when the Moon visits Saturn, only 1˚ below, starting around 10pm. Lastly, the Moon finishes off the left side of a Moon-Saturn-Jupiter lineup on the 19th.

16th – 19th – Conjunction – Mars, Mercury – Get out right after sunset with a pair of binoculars. Look W and a tiny bit to the right to find Mars and Mercury less than 1˚ apart, with Mars on the left and Mercury on the right before the 18th. Then, on the 18th, Mercury is directly above Mars. Then they switch positions and Mercury is moving to the left of Mars.

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

 

 

CONSTELLATIONS...

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

After Dinner, Before Bed:

Big Dipper, Bootes, Virgo, Corona Borealis, Hercules – Gaze almost vertically as you face the NW, and you’ll easily find the Big Dipper: seven very bright stars that form a spoon shape. Now if you take the handle of the Dipper, follow its curve to the next bright star you see, about 30˚ away, which is Arcturus. “Follow the arc to Arcturus.” That’s the brightest star in Bootes, which looks like a kite. Take that same curve, and follow it about another 20˚ to “speed on to Spica”, the brightest star in Virgo, one of my favorite constellations, since it reminds me of the Dickinson Mermaid.  Now go back to Bootes, and just to the left of Bootes are seven stars that form the northern crown Corona Borealis, which looks more like a small bowl or a “C” in the sky. Continue a little further to the left and you’ll find the keystone asterism which is part of the constellation Hercules. Extra 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

Before Work:

Summer Triangle – Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila – Look pretty much straight above you, and find the brightest star up there. You’ll notice a parallelogram attached to it. This is the brightest star Vega, part of the constellation Lyra, the harp. Directly above you will be Cygnus the Swan, with its brightest star Deneb. It will look like a large cross, or if you look out a little further, a swan flying above you. Below Cygnus and Lyra is the third constellation of the Summer Triangle, Aquila the Eagle, with its brightest star Altair. The three bright stars in this one can be easily confused for Orion’s belt, given their similar size, however they are not in line as straight, and are part of a bigger diamond shape.  Use a star chart to find small Delphinus and Sagitta in the area as well.

Don’t forget to check out my Podbean page, YouTube Channel, and Twitter feed, or get my podcast feed on Stitcher, or iTunes.

 


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May 2019

• April 10th, 2019

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LISTEN as a podcast on Podbean, Stitcher, or iTunes

 

         Welcome to Observing With Webb, where a high school astronomy teacher tells you what you’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what you should check out later this month…at night.  Don’t forget to check out my Podbean page, YouTube Channel, and Twitter feed, or get my podcast feed on Stitcher, or iTunes.

May is looking to be a great month for catching up on constellations, enjoying the warm air, and checking out the Moon getting close to the planets.

 

Naked-eye PLANETS...

  • Around Sunset – Mars (W) until 10:30pm
  • Throughout the night – None
  • Morning – Venus (E), Saturn (S), Jupiter (SW)

 

Mercury

  • Not easily visible this month.

Venus

  • Venus is getting harder and harder to see, as it gets closer to the Sun from our perspective. You’ll have to look low on the Eastern horizon about an hour before sunrise up until sunrise. It will be the only or brightest point of light in that direction.

Mars

  • Mars is already in the W around sunset and setting a little after 10:30 each night, which gives you less time, given the later and later sunset. Moves through Taurus. Dimmer, but still brighter and redder than its surroundings.

Jupiter

  • Rising between 11:30pm and 10pm, Jupiter will be very bright in the morning, off to the SSW, only about 20˚ high.

Saturn

  • Rising between 1:30am and 11:30pm, Saturn will be about 25˚ to the left of Jupiter all month, hanging out in the top left of Sagittarius.

 

EVENTS...

New Moon – 4th (darkest skies)

First Quarter Moon – 11th (Visible until midnight)

Full Moon – 18th (Visible all night)

Last Quarter Moon – 26th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

7thClose Encounter – Moon, Mars – Get out after dinner, find a very thin crescent Moon in the West, and Mars will be about 4˚ up and to the right of the Moon.

20th – 23rdClose Encounter – Moon, Jupiter, Saturn – Get out after midnight and into the morning on these 4 days to watch a waning gibbous Moon travel by two great gaseous planets. Look South, and on the 20th, the Moon will be about 5˚ to Jupiter’s right, with Saturn on the opposite side of Jupiter, about 20˚ away. The following morning, the Moon will have moved to the other side of Jupiter, and then on the 22nd it will be closer to Saturn than Jupiter, but still on Saturn’s right. On the last day, the 23rd, the Moon will finally be on the left of Saturn by about 5˚.

 

 

CONSTELLATIONS...

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

After Dinner, Before Bed:

Leo, Big Dipper, Bootes – Leo will be high in the South, almost straight above you. It has a backward question mark with a right triangle to the left of the question. If you look above Leo, behind you and high in the sky, you should find the Big Dipper: seven very bright stars that form a spoon shape. Now if you take the handle of the Dipper, follow its curve to the next bright star you see, about 30˚ away, which is Arcturus. “Follow the arc to Arcturus.” That’s the brightest star in Bootes, which looks like a kite. Take that same curve, and follow it about another 20˚ to “speed on to Spica”, the brightest star in Virgo, one of my favorite constellations, since it reminds me of the Dickinson Mermaid.

Before Work:

Lyra, Hercules, Hercules Cluster – Look pretty much straight above you, and find the brightest star up there. You’ll notice a parallelogram attached to it. This is the brightest star Vega, part of the constellation Lyra, the harp. Next to that is a keystone shaped constellation called Hercules. On the right side of the keystone is a small cluster of stars known at the Hercules Cluster, which is a collection of hundreds of stars on the outskirts of our galaxy. Given how high it is in the sky right now, you might catch its faint fuzziness with your naked eye, but a set of binoculars or a small telescope will really help you see it.

 

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