The month of June is called after Juno, the Roman goddess who was the spouse of Zeus and queen of the gods. According to fantasy, Juno had the ability to see via a veil of clouds that Zeus put up, so our newest mission to Jupiter was named Juno because it does a lot the identical factor at this time.
June at all times marks the start of summer time in the northern hemisphere. This 12 months that shall be at 6:07 a.m., June 21.
We ought to get a lot hotter nights this month, however they’ll even be shorter due to the excessive angle of the solar. There are many fascinating highlights this month, which embody good appearances of all 5 of the brightest planets with Saturn reaching opposition on June 27. There can even be some shut conjunctions with the moon and as a pleasant bonus, the brightest asteroid, named Vesta, will attain opposition June 19 and be visible with out optical help.
Venus reaches its highest altitude on June 6 at 28 levels above the horizon. It will then set round 10:30 p.m., which is about as late because it might ever set. Venus will go from 80 % illuminated right down to 70 % this month. Venus, now in Gemini the twins, shall be nearly evenly spaced with Castor and Pollux on June eight and, because it continues to journey eastward alongside the ecliptic, will get very near the Beehive open star cluster in Cancer on June 20, simply earlier than summer time begins.
The Beehive cluster is without doubt one of the closest open star clusters to Earth. It’s visible to the bare eye as a faint smudge about 3 times the width of the total moon, however realizing extra about it is going to make it that rather more fascinating. It has over 1,000 stars and spans about 30 gentle years of the sky at a distance of 600 gentle years away. The Beehive cluster is said to the close by Hyades cluster in Taurus, since they each have a typical level of origin in area inside our galaxy primarily based on their age and correct movement across the galaxy. The Beehive cluster is simply 600 million years previous, which is kind of younger. Our personal solar and earth are about eight occasions older. Fish had not even emerged in our oceans at the moment. Only some primitive jellyfish existed.
Jupiter remains to be excessive and shiny in our jap night sky. The different night at 9 p.m., I noticed Venus setting at about the identical peak above the western horizon as Jupiter was because it was rising over the jap horizon. That was 25 levels. Right in the center was a first-quarter moon. Roughly the identical setup will occur once more on the first-quarter moon June 20.
Jupiter is getting a little bit fainter and farther away now, however remains to be a lot nearer and brighter than ordinary. It will finish its retrograde loop in Libra on July 9, two months after its opposition final month on May 9. Look for all 4 of its shiny moons with only a pair of binoculars.
Saturn will attain opposition in the constellation of Sagittarius on June 27, the identical day the total moon shall be just one diploma above the ringed planet. That’s a really auspicious approach to mark its opposition this 12 months. Saturn’s rings are actually tilted open at almost 26 levels, concerning the most attainable from our line of sight. Since Saturn is now at its closest and brightest for the 12 months, search for its dusky polar caps, its elusive and shadowy crepe ring close to the planet, and the very slim Encke Gap in the A hoop out past the a lot wider Cassini Division. You would want a telescope.
Mars is essentially the most dramatic planet this month. It will once more greater than double in brightness, from minus-1.2 to minus-2.2 magnitude. It can even get 25 % bigger as a result of we’re quickly catching up with it in our orbits. Mars begins the month rising at midnight however ends the month rising by 10:30 p.m. Mars will gradual it eastward movement and start its retrograde movement in Capricorn on June 28, one month earlier than its long-awaited opposition on July 29, which shall be its finest opposition in 15 years. Look for its stunning golden-orange glow one constellation to the east of Saturn.
Mercury makes a short look low in the west-northwestern sky half an hour after sundown beginning close to the center of the month. Look for a slender waxing crescent moon to move close to Mercury on June 14, then move close to Venus the subsequent night in Gemini.
As a bonus, the brightest asteroid, named Vesta, will attain opposition on June 19 in Sagittarius, very near Saturn. Vesta is the second-largest asteroid after Ceres, is about half its dimension at 330 miles in diameter, was solely the fourth one found, in 1807, however it’s the brightest. It shall be visible even with out optical help this month because it reaches 5.three magnitude earlier than fading a little bit towards the top of the month.
Vesta is fascinating as a result of it might have turn out to be a full planet primarily based on its geology, if it hadn’t been prevented from growing attributable to Jupiter’s sturdy gravity. Vesta has a crust, mantle and core just like the earth, making it distinctive among the many tens of millions of asteroids that orbit between Mars and Jupiter. An enormous chunk of Vesta is lacking close to its south pole. That occurred throughout a large collision a couple of billion years in the past that nearly blew it aside. That one collision ejected a half-million cubic miles of fabric into area and is even now the supply of totally 5 % of the entire meteorites we discover on Earth.
June 1: The moon passes close to Saturn in Sagittarius this morning.
June three: Mars and the moon will rise simply three levels aside this morning.
June four: The Compton Gamma Ray telescope was deorbited on today in 2000 after 10 years.
June 5: Voyager 2 reached Neptune on today in 1989 and made quite a few discoveries. The final transit of Venus occurred on today in 2012. The subsequent one received’t be till 2117.
June 6: Last-quarter moon is at 2:33 p.m.
June 13: New moon is at three:44 p.m. On today in 1983 Pioneer 10 left the photo voltaic system, crossing the heliopause at 121 a.u. from the solar, or about 3 times farther out than Pluto.
June 16: On today in 1963 Valentina Tereshkova grew to become the primary lady in area and nonetheless stays the one lady to do a solo area flight. Look for the Beehive star cluster midway between good Venus and the waxing crescent moon.
June 19: Vesta is at opposition with the solar tonight in Sagittarius close to Saturn.
June 20: First-quarter moon is at 6:52 a.m..
June 21: Summer begins at 6:07 a.m.
June 23: The moon and Jupiter are solely 4 levels aside in Libra tonight.
June 26: Charles Messier was born on today in 1730. He was a French comet hunter who developed a catalog of 110 objects in the sky that weren’t comets.
June 27: Saturn will attain opposition tonight, rising at sundown and never setting till dawn.
June 28: Full moon is at 12:54 a.m. This can also be known as the Strawberry or Rose Moon.
June 29: George Ellery Hale was born on today in 1868.
June 30: On today in 1908, a comet or asteroid exploded just a few miles above Tunguska, Siberia, with the drive of 20 megatons of TNT, or about 1,000 occasions the vitality of the primary atomic bomb.
Bernie Reim of Wells is co-director of the Astronomical Society of Northern New England.