Ahh, June. Summer begins, nights are warm, skies are mostly clear. It’s a great month for stargazing. Here are some highlights for the month.
June 1st: The New Moon is on June 1st, occurring at 3:03 pm, MDT. With no moon in the sky in the evenings, stargazing and deep sky observing with binoculars is a great activity on these warmer late-spring nights.
June 1st: There is a partial solar eclipse on June 1st, but it is only visible from the extreme northern parts of Canada and Alaska.
June 8th: 1st Quarter Moon occurs at 8:11 pm, MDT. The 1st Quarter Moon is basically due south at sunset. This may wash out some early evening observing, but the moon will be gone around midnight.
June 15th: Full Moon occurs at 2:14 pm, MDT. June’s full moon is the Strawberry Moon. From the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Strawberry Moon is named for short season where strawberries ripen. A full moon rises as the Sun sets and doesn’t set until sunrise the next morning, making night sky observations difficult.
June 15th: There is a total lunar eclipse associated with this full moon, but, alas, it is an eastern hemisphere event.
June 21st: The summer solstice (in the northern hemisphere) occurs at 11:16 am, MDT. On this day the Sun is at its highest point in the sky as it crosses the meridian of the sky. The Sun also rises its furthest north of east and sets its furthest north of west on this day. The longest day and shortest night also occur with the solstice. In the southern hemisphere seasons are reversed. This is the shortest day of the year and winter is beginning.
June 23rd: 3rd Quarter Moon occurs at 5:48 am, MDT. Nighttime observing is good as the moon doesn’t rise until midnight. Note that the moon is due south at sunrise during 3rd quarter.
July 1st: The lunar cycle begins anew, with New Moon at 2:54 am, MDT on July 1st.
Saturn is visible throughout the month in the nighttime sky. It is in the constellation Virgo, and at 1st magnitude should be easy to spot. Don’t confuse Saturn, slightly yellow in color, with the bright blue star Spica, 15 degrees to the east. Saturn is very close (a quarter of a degree) to Porrima, the third brightest star in Virgo, at magnitude 3.
Early morning viewers can catch Jupiter, in Aries, and Venus, in Taurus, before sunrise over in the east.
Be sure to come back and read additional blog posts later in the month for more details and night sky observing projects.