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Urban observing June 2014 June 1, 2014

Posted by aquillam in Urban Observing.
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Special Events

The major special event for June is the solstice. Here in the northern hemisphere, summer officially begins June 21 at 10:51 UTC (that’s 6:51 AM Eastern daylight time). That’s the date we get the most hours of daylight, and the mid-day shadows are the shortest. Of course if you were in the southern hemisphere, you’d have the least hours of daylight and longest shadows.

The full moon occurs June 13, so the best time to observe the Moon will be the first week of the month, and the best time for deep sky objects will be the last week of the month.

Planets

At the start of the month, Mercury is just past greatest eastern elongation, so you can see it in the west just after sunset. Inferior conjunction occurs on the 19th though, so look soon or you’ll miss your chance. Morning observers get their chance again in July, though those with a keen eye and a good pair of binoculars might be able to catch it as early as June 29.

Just after sunset, June 1.

Just after sunset, June 1.

6 AM June 29.

6 AM June 29.

Venus is a morning star all month. It heads northward toward the Sun as the month progresses, starting the month at 18º altitude due east at 6 AM  on June 1 and ending  19º up ENE on June 30. A very old moon passes within 3º of Venus on June 24. It is also very close, and a bit easier to see, on June 23. It’s not too far from the Pleiades those days either, making the 23 & 24 a good wide field photo op for morning observers.

6 AM June 24.

6 AM June 24.

Mars starts the month near the double star Porrima in Virgo. Look about 45º up due south at 10 PM at the start of the month. By the end of the month, it is nearly southwest at 10 PM, and about half way between Porrima and Spica. The first quarter moon passes close to it on June 7.

Jupiter is quickly disappearing into the glow of the Sun. Look for a nice grouping of Mercury, Jupiter and the Moon in Gemini and Cancer on June 1. By June 22, it’ll be getting hard to see Jupiter in the glare of the sunset.  With binoculars and a clear, flat, western horizon, you might be able to catch Jupiter and a very young moon on June 28.

Saturn is the planet to watch this June. Just past opposition, it’s well up at sunset, and out most of the rest of the night. The rings are tilted nicely toward us, so it’s a beautiful telescope target. A gibbous moon passes close to it on June 9 & 10. It’s near the double star with the awesome name Zubenalgenubi that week as well.

10 PM June 8.

10 PM June 8.

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