Monthly Sky Guide: June 2002
There is always something interesting to see in the night sky no matter whether you observe with binoculars, a telescope, or just your eyes. Go outside on any clear night and enjoy the view. Remember, Astronomy is for everyone!
VENUS and JUPITER will provide the most dramatic planetary sight of the month. In early June the two brightest planets will form a dazzling pair in the western evening sky. They will be at their closest (1° 38') on June 3rd at 22:35 UT and are sure to be noticed by millions of skywatchers worldwide. Don't miss this one! In the days after the conjunction, Venus will climb quickly away from Jupiter which descends into the evening twilight. Also, look for a truly spectacular close pairing of the crescent Moon and Venus on the evening of June 13th.
MARS has faded to magnitude +1.7 and is located below Venus and Jupiter. Use binoculars to find Mars about a degree or two to the right of Jupiter about 30 to 40 minutes after sunset on June 30th.
MERCURY reaches greatest elongation from the Sun before dawn on June 21st. Look for the elusive planet low in the east-southeast about 45 minutes before sunrise during the later part of the month.
SATURN lost in the Sun's glare for most of the month. On June 30th Saturn may be glimpsed in morning twilight about 3° lower left of slightly brighter Mercury.
The SUN reaches the June solstice at 13:24 UT (9:24am US Eastern Daylight Time) on June 21st marking the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
Mini Star-Hop: Using the sky map, follow the handle of the Big Dipper and "arc to Arcturus", the brightest star north of the celestial equator and the 4th brightest in the entire sky. The next brightest star is Vega. To get there from Arcturus you will need to first pass Corona Borealis (The Northern Crown) followed by the "keystone" that marks the center of the faint constellation Hercules. Near Vega lie three of the most visually impressive objects in the sky. Epsilon Lyrae (e) the famous Double-Double star is a striking quadruple star system. Binoculars show a double star but a telescope at high magnification reveals each "star" to be itself a double star. Nearby is the beautiful Ring Nebula (M57). A telescope shows this object to resemble a faint smoke ring. Lower in the sky is Albireo, a beautiful double star that shines with contrasting colors of orange and blue-green.
Clear skies till next month!
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