June 2017

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         Welcome to Observing With Webb, where the armchair astronomer figures out what they’re looking at, why it’s so cool, and what they should check out next.  Don’t forget to check out my Podbean page, YouTube Channel, and Twitter feed, or get my podcast feed on Stitcher.

June provides us warm nights to check out Jupiter and Saturn, morning views of Venus, the shortest night of the year, and a cool double shadow transit on Jupiter.

 

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

Planets you can see around Sunset – Jupiter (S), Saturn (SE)

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

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

 

Mercury – Not visible in June

Venus – Rises around 4am.  Bright and visible about 20˚ high in East before sunrise all month.

Mars – Not visible in June. On the opposite side of the Sun.

Saturn – Rises around between 9pm and sunset in the SE, highest in the S around midnight, sets right around sunrise.  Best time of year to check it out.

Jupiter – After sunset, look SW about a halfway up the sky and find the brightest point of light in that area.  It’ll move toward the West and set around 2:30am in the beginning of the month and 1:30am at the end. You could also find Jupiter by finding the Big Dipper’s handle, following that arc to Arcturus, then speeding on to Spica, and finding brighter Jupiter to the right of Spica.  Or look to the left of Leo.

 

EVENTS...

First Quarter Moon – 1st (Visible until midnight)

3rdClose Encounter – Moon, Jupiter – Look S after sunset to see the Moon just 1˚ above Jupiter.  Get out before 2:30am that night (morning of the 4th), otherwise they will be set. Bright Spica is nearby as well

3rdShadows on Jupiter – Check out Jupiter between 10:22pm and 12:22am EDT and see Ganymede’s shadow and Io’s shadow both cast on Jupiter, traveling together, Io’s being smaller, more defined, and faster.

Full Moon – 9th (Visible all night)

9thClose Encounter – Moon, Saturn – Find the Full Moon and you’ll see Saturn just 2˚ down and to the right.  They will move West throughout the night and set just before sunrise.

Last Quarter Moon – 17th (Visible from midnight into the morning)

20th-21stClose Encounter – Moon, Venus – Get up after 3:30am but before sunrise (5:36am) and find a very thin crescent Moon in the East with Venus nearby. On the 20th, the Moon is to the right about 7˚. On the 21st, the Moon is about the same distance down and to the left of Venus.

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

New Moon – 24th (darkest skies)

30thClose Encounter – Moon, Jupiter – Look SW after sunset to see the Moon 4˚ to the right of Jupiter.  Get out before 1:00am that night (morning of July 1st) when they set. Bright Spica is nearby as well.

 

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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