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Monday, June 1, 2015

Look At The Sky: June

The Solar System in JUNE 2015 : ( )

NOTE that in June virtually all planets with the exception of MARS will be visible, although at different times; Saturn and Venus are evening objects and are very well placed for observation in warm summer skies!

Mercury - The elusive planet MERCURY will likely not be seen early this month, but will reach its greatest WESTERN elongation from the sun on June 24, when it will be a bit higher than normal above its rising point on the eastern horizon this month;  So for several days before and after this date, you should be able to spot the tiny planet in binoculars.   - In GEMINI

Venus - The brightest of all planets reaches its greatest elongation east from the sun as we see it from Earth on June 6; this means that it is about as high in dark skies as we can expect for a planet closer to the sun than we are.  The brightest of all planets, Venus will be very high in the sky at dusk and visible in dark sky for several hours.  Telescopically, Venus appears as a "half moon", about 50 percent illuminated from our viewing angle.  - in CANCER.
Mars - Mars is now in conjunction with the sun and not visible this month, emerging in late July during dawn in bright skies - In TAURUS.
Jupiter -  The mightiest of planets, JUPITER is now receding from our view both in terms of visibility and distance.  You can spot the bright planet right after sunset in the western sky near the head of LEO the Lion ("the Sickle"); however it quickly sets during dusk and edges closer to the sun as the month progresses - In LEO-CANCER
Saturn - Saturn is high in the sky at dark, rising about the time of sunset low in southeastern skies, very near the head of the Scorpion.  It will be at its highest (south of overhead) about 11:15 local time  .- in LIBRA

For June, there are no less than 13 (!!) meteor showers, some of which provide for wonderful spring sky shows, provided that the light of the moon does not interfere.  However, as with a months and times during the year, observers should always be aware that new sporadic meteor showers can occur at anytime from seemingly unknown sources and radiants. Unfortunately for June 2015, the full moon occurs on the 1st, which means that pretty much the first five of these showers are going to be less than impressive in terms of faint meteors.

(Teri's note:  most of these seem to have a peak time of around 3am.  If you are interested in knowing more about the late owl showers, check it out on the web site noted at the top of this post.)

June 13 - Theta Ophiuchid Meteors - Coming from the border of Ophiuchus, Sagittarius, and Scorpius, this radiant rises about 9 p.m., giving a window of good observing ALL NIGHT in spite of the moon is a waning crescent and absent from the sky all night, hence most shofaint meteors should be seen as well as the brighter members of this shower.  However, those that do grace our skies are bright and spectacular, so be alert to these meteors if you are observing and happen upon a fireball from this area.

Comet 29P (Schwassmann-Wachmann) - Always a fun comet to keep up with, 29P has recently experienced some celestial fireworks and attained a brightness in early 2015 two magnitudes brighter than anticipated; currently at opposition this month, it is far south of overhead at about sunset and will be setting in the west about 11 p.m. local time.  Look for this to be magnitude 15 or so, with a broad fanned tail and very bright stellar like nucleus!  The comet is at MINUS 31 degrees declination, so a good view of southern skies will be necessary.

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