2018-06-01 / Stargazing

‘Long’ing for the Sun to Hang Around a While

For June 2018, the waning gibbous moon passes 1.6 degrees north of Mars in the morning sky on June 3. Look how bright Mars appears this morning, and then wait a month until the moon passes above Mars again on July

1. By then, the earth is overtaking Mars, making it much closer, bigger and brighter than it appears this morning. It will be more than twice this bright in July.

The moon is third quarter on June 6 and new on June 13. On June 15, the waxing crescent moon is to the lower right of brilliant Venus in evening twilight, and by the 16, it lies just to the upper left on Venus. So the afternoon of June 16, if it is clear, will be a fine time to catch Venus and the moon in afternoon daylight, about 30 degrees east of the sun.

The moon is first quarter on June 20. June 21 is the summer solstice, the longest day -- about 14 hours in Pensacola and even longer at more northern latitudes. This event occurs at 5:07 a.m. CDT, andit marks the northernmost point of the sun on the ecliptic as we revolve around it annually.


The Great Red Spot is unusually red now, and should also be spotted among its clouds at 100X with even small scopes. But the most beautiful object in the sky is Saturn, which comes to opposition in Sagittarius on June 27. It is not quite as open as last year, but as this fine shot by EAAA member Maolone Calvert shows, it makes a fine sight. Look closely for its large moon Titan, and also perhaps for smaller moons Dione, Rhea and Tethys. Download the program Stellarium at www.stellarium.org and you can zoom in on the planets to find the layout of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn at any moment. The Great Red Spot is unusually red now, and should also be spotted among its clouds at 100X with even small scopes. But the most beautiful object in the sky is Saturn, which comes to opposition in Sagittarius on June 27. It is not quite as open as last year, but as this fine shot by EAAA member Maolone Calvert shows, it makes a fine sight. Look closely for its large moon Titan, and also perhaps for smaller moons Dione, Rhea and Tethys. Download the program Stellarium at www.stellarium.org and you can zoom in on the planets to find the layout of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn at any moment. The waxing gibbous moon is just north of Jupiter on June 23, offering another chance to catch a planet in daylight if the skies are clear enough in late afternoon. Jupiter is fainter than Venus, so this is a far more difficult challenge, but I have done it a few times.

The full moon, the Honey Moon, passes just north of Saturn on June 28 and returns to pass north of Mars again at month’s end. Again, look at how much brighter Mars appears than on June 3.

This June, Mercury is too close to the sun to observe. Venus dominates the western evening sky and should be easily found in daylight on June 15, letting the crescent moon guide you. Telescopically it is a gibbous bright disk, 80 percent sunlight now. No other details are noted with amateur scopes, alas.

Mars is in Capricornus, rising in the east at about midnight at the start of June and around 11 p.m. by month’s end. Its disk is still small, but getting bigger and brighter by night as the Earth overtakes it.

The two planets are closest and brightest at opposition on July 26, when Mars rises at sunset. We have not seen Mars this close since August 2003.

Jupiter is well placed for evening observers in Libra. It was at opposition on May 5 and is now well up in the southeast as twilight falls. Any small scope will also spot its four Galilean moons.

The winter constellations are being swallowed up in the sun’s glare, but you might spot Sirius low in the southwest as June begins.

Sirius vanishes into the sun’s glare by mid-June, and this sets the period as “Dog Days,” when Sirius lies lost in the sun’s glare. In reality, Sirius is about 20 times more luminous than our star, but it also lies eight light years distant, while our star is eight light minutes away from us.

The brightest star in the northwest is Capella, distinctively yellow in color. It is a giant star, almost exactly the same temperature as our sun, but about 100 times more luminous. Just south of it are the stellar twins, the Gemini, with Castor closer to Capella, and Pollux closer to the Little Dog Star, Procyon. By the end of June, all the winter stars, like Sirius, are vanished behind the sun.

Download the

June Evening Sky Map at skymaps.com for a list of the best objects to view with the naked eye, binoculars and scopes.

PUBLIC GAZES

by the Escambia Amateur Astronomers begin at sunset and run ‘til 10 p.m.

Gulfside Pavillion Pensacola Beach Friday V June 22nd & Saturday V June 23rd

Sidewalk astronomy under the first quarter moon; be sure to bring your smartphones for great shots of the moon,

Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn!

Battery Worth on Ft. Pickens Picnic Area Friday V June 15th

* The dark sky sessions will allow observers to enjoy the beauty of the night sky, the Milky Way and many more galaxies beyond our own. We plan a sky interpretation session to introduce the constellations in twilight at the amphitheater at 7:30 PM.

Big Lagoon State Park Saturday V June 9th (near the observation tower)

For more information on the Escambia Amateur Astronomers, find us on Facebook at “Escambia Amateur Astronomers,” visit our website at www.eaaa.net or call our sponsor,

Lauren Rogers at Pensacola State at (850) 484-1155 or lrogers@pensacolastate.edu.

Join them on Facebook at

Escambia Amateur Astronomers Association.

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