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Urban Observing June 2013 June 3, 2013

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro, Urban Observing.
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June opens with a last chance to see Jupiter in the evening this year. Look early though, because it’s disappearing fast! It reaches conjunction on the 19th. Find it by looking first for bright Venus in the west-southwest, then scan the horizon with a pair of binoculars. While you’re there, you should also scan upwards a little west looking for elusive Mercury. The trio form a nice line through Gemini early in the month.

 

Looking WNW at sunset on June 4 (Image made using Starry Night software)

Looking WNW at sunset on June 4 (Image made using Starry Night software)

Be sure to look for Mercury and Venus on June 18 and 19 as well, when they are at their closest. Mercury will be gone from the skies again by the end of the month.

Looking WNW at 9:45 PM on June 19 (Image made using Starry Night software)

Looking WNW at 9:45 PM on June 19 (Image made using Starry Night software)

A very young Moon joins Mercury and Venus on the 10th, though it’ll be an easier catch on the 11th. If you go out that night with a telescope, be sure to look along the bottom edge of the terminator for a Vallis Rheita, a long lunar valley stretching away from crater Rheita, which will be just on the terminator.

The Moon passes close by Saturn on the 18 – 19th. On the 19th, the terminator skims the edge of Mare Humorum. This is one of the smaller mare, just west of Mare Nubium and south of Mare Cognitum. You can distinguish Mare Humorum by looking for Gassendi, a double crater near the top of Mare Humorum, arranged slightly overlapping, almost like a snowman.

There are good evening views of Saturn all month. Lots of Moons are visible with a 4″ or larger telescope. Identify them with Sky&Tel’s Applet at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/objects/planets/3308506.html.

Morning skywatchers will have to content themselves with Mars, though he is still very close to the Sun. Look for Mars and a very old Moon on June 7 in the ENE at sunrise (use binoculars). Better yet, hold out for July 6, when a very old Moon joins both Mars and Jupiter in the dawn skies.

Urban observatories are good places to search for doubles. Alcor & Mizar in the Big Dipper is an easy one. Summer also brings colorful Albireo and Cor Caroli. You can test your telescope’s resolution on Epsilon Lyrae (aka the double-double.)

Cor Caroli is in Canis Venatici, under the handle of the Big Dipper. Zenith is just off the top of Bootes, near the top conter of this image. (Image created using Starry Night software)

Cor Caroli is in Canis Venatici, under the handle of the Big Dipper. Zenith is just off the top of Bootes, near the top conter of this image. (Image created using Starry Night software)

The solstice occurs in June 21 this year. That makes June an excellent month for solar observing. NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN WITHOUT A FILTER! The easiest way to do solar observing is with a pair of eclipse glasses. You can get a pair and help support astronomy outreach by purchasing them from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific or Astronomers Without Borders. You might also want to check at your local science museum’s gift shop.

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