June Night Sky Events
st quarter. rd quarter.th brightest – at least we have an easily visible North Star. (For all practical purposes, there currently is no South Star.)
[Held at arm’s length, the width of your fist is 10º and the width of your index finger is 1º. The width of a full Moon is ½º.]
June 1 Wed.:
8 Wed. evening:
10 Fri. evening:
23 Thu. morning:
26 Sun. morning:
28 Tue. morning:
30 Thu. morning:
June Naked-eye Planets
[The Sun, Moon and planets rise in the east and set in the west due to Earth’s west-to-east rotation on its axis.]
* Mercury is lost in glare of the the rising Sun early in the month, passes behind the Sun June 12, and then emerges low in the west after sunset late in the month.
* Venus, still the brilliant "morning star," now rises only an hour before the Sun.
* Mars, rising earlier each morning, is now up an hour and a half before sunrise.
* Jupiter now rises more than two hours before the Sun and is well up in the east by dawn.
* Saturn, in the south in the early evening, is up until the wee hours of morning.
Constellation of the Month
In the northern sky, Draco the Dragon, shaped like a backwards "S" composed of all rather faint stars, is a long constellation resembling a snake more than a dragon. Its tail starts between Polaris (North Star) and the Big Dipper’s pointer stars at the outer end of the bowl. Its body winds upward and to the right, and then back down and to the right around the Little Dipper. It then sharply winds back upward where its 4-star quadrangle-shaped head is 1½ fist-widths (held at arm’s length) to the left of the bright star Vega.
Thuban, the once and future North Star
Polaris is the North Star of our era, but it hasn’t always been, and it won’t always be. Thuban, one of the faint stars of Draco, was the North Star some 5,000 years ago when Stonehenge and Egypt’s pyramids were being built. Owing to precession – the Earth’s gradual wobble on its axis – the point in the sky straight up from Earth’s North Pole (called the North Celestial Pole) makes a big circle in the sky every 25,800 years. When there is a naked-eye star fairly near the NCP, it is regarded as the North Star of that era, yet much of the time there simply is no North Star. But what goes around, comes around: in another 20,000+ years, Thuban will again become the North Star, and then 5,000 years later, Polaris again.
A challenge to see, especially under light-polluted skies, faint Thuban is located mid-way between the Little Dipper’s bowl and the Big Dipper’s handle. While it’s not much to see, it can help us appreciate Polaris. Even though Polaris is not the brightest star in the sky as many think – it’s 50
: Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars (all very low in the east at dawn): Saturn (east) June 1: New / June 8: 1st Quarter / June 15: Full / June 24: 3rd QuarterAn extremely thin crescent Moon is five moonwidths below Venus near the eastern horizon 30 minutes before sunrise.The crescent Moon is six moonwidths below the Pleiades star cluster with Mars further below them very low in the east just before the break of dawn. The crescent Moon is to the left of Jupiter low in the east. The Moon is at 3 The summer solstice, the longest day of the year, marks the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. The full Moon, called the Flower Moon, Rose Moon, Strawberry Moon, and Honey Moon, features a total lunar eclipse which won’t be seen in our part of the world. The Moon is one fist-width (held at arm’s length) to the lower right of Saturn, and the next night is the same distance to the lower left. The Moon is at 1 The new Moon produces a partial solar eclipse but not here.