Jun 01

June 2010

What’s Up in the Sky June, 2010

By Peter Burkey

Have you ever wanted to see an asteroid, but did not know where to look? Point your telescope above the spout of the Teapot in the constellation Sagittarius at M8, the Lagoon Nebula. Starting on May 31, observe each clear night for about a week. Make a sketch or take a photograph each night so you can identify the “star” that changes position. That is Ceres, the largest asteroid and first to be discovered. Unfortunately, Sagittarius is not located for good observing until about 2:00 a.m.

Space limits the amount of detail I can go into, so I highly recommend researching this online. But, if your schedule allows it and you are dedicated to observing something different, this one will be really cool!

For an easier observation, view planets either right after sunset or just before dawn. If you have morning chores or an early commute, say between 5:00 and 5:30 a.m., you may spot the planet Jupiter shining brightly in the southeast. Look for it just below the crescent Moon on the morning of June 6.

After sunset, three planets are easily visible. Looking a little north of west, bright Venus dominates the horizon. Up and to the left, Mars can be found near the star Regulus in the constellation Leo. Continuing up and left brings you to Saturn, below and left of the three stars that make up Leo’s eastern “haunches”.

Watch from night to night as the planets shift positions relative to one another. See Mars pass closest to Regulus on June 5 and 6. Venus, along with the stars Castor and Pollux, form a close grouping with the crescent Moon on the 14th. View Venus and the Beehive cluster together in binoculars on the 20th.

I hope you enjoy observing what’s up in the sky.

This month in history:
June 3: Hale Telescope dedicated – 1948
June 8: First unpowered glide test of X-15 – 1959
June 16: Valentina Tereshkova first (and only solo) woman in space – 1963
June 18: Sally Ride becomes first American woman in space – 1983
June 22: Royal Greenwich Observatory founded – 1675

Here are this month’s viewing highlights:
Planets this month: Venus continues to dazzle western sky at dusk. See it near the crescent moon on the 14th and M44 on the 20th. Look toward the south for Mars and Saturn. Jupiter is high in southeast at dawn.

June 4: Last-quarter Moon
June 3-10: Match Mars pass Regulus. Compare night to night.
June 11: Venus in line with Castor and Pollux.
June 12: New Moon.
June 14: Castor, Pollux, and Venus joined by crescent Moon – beautiful!
June 19: First quarter Moon.
June 20: Binoculars show Venus very close to Beehive cluster.
June 21: Summer Solstice 7:28 a.m.
June 26: Full Moon. Partial lunar eclipse visible from western North America.
June 27 – 30: Saturn, Mars, Regulus and Venus in west at sunset. Watch for close pairings in July.