The New Moon occuring on June 10th will set the stage for an Annular Eclipse. The Moon will be a little too far from Earth for its disk to completely cover the Sun. Instead, a bright ring of light (also known as an ‘annulus’ or ‘ring of fire’), will be visible for those viewing the event within the path of totality. The band of ‘total eclipse’ will begin in Ontario, just north of Lake Superior and proceed over Nunavut and Greenland before making its way across the North Pole, finally terminating in NE Siberia. Sites in Upper Michigan and other parts of the northern United States will see a partial eclipse commencing at 6:42 a.m. EDT. The eclipse will end for viewers in Siberia just after local sunrise. Tables and viewing links can be explored in more detail at the Abrams Planetarium website’s Extra Content Page (abramsplanetarium.org/msta/) .
Our observing challenge for June is set for June 8 when the old waning Crescent Moon passes 7 to 8 degrees to the lower right of the Pleiades in Taurus the Bull. Other notable Lunar events in June will include our first peek at the very young Crescent Moon 40 minutes after sunset on June 11. One only need to find bright Venus in the WNW as the young Moon will be just below and to the right of this Evening ‘Star’. The First Quarter and Full Moon will take place on June 17 and 24, respectively.
As mentioned, Venus has now transitioned to the evening sky and shines brightly at a magnitude of -3.8. On June 4 and 5, it will set 1.4 hours after sunset and its position (or declination) of +24 degrees 26 minutes marks the farthest northern point the planet can be seen for observers located around 40 degrees latitude. This location will not appear to change for nearly two weeks before and after it reaches this position. Soon after, it will pick up the pace and by November 6, the setting point will have moved to -27 degrees 15 minutes, a change in azimuth of 69 degrees in five months. Mars continues to fade reaching a mag of +1.8. The Red Planet begins June 25 degrees above and to the left of Venus and will close the distance to only 7 degrees by month’s end.
At the end of June, Saturn will be rising in the ESE within two hours after sunset, followed by Jupiter an hour later. Jupiter will be 20 degrees lower and to the left of Saturn but won’t be hard to spot shining at mag -2.4 to -2.6. Saturn will be a more modest magnitude of +0.6 to +0.4.
Lunar conjunctions (times when the Moon passes near or in front of other objects) will take place during the month with Venus, Pollux, Mars, Regulus, Spica, Antares, Saturn, and Jupiter. All seem to be timed for viewers in North America . Specific dates and times can be found in Abrams Sky Calendar on their web site – check the diagrams for May 31, June 1, 11, 12, 13, 15, 19, 22, and 27 – 29. Enjoy you summer viewing and as the late Jack Horkheimer (known for his Star Gazer and Star Hustler programs on PBS) used to say at the close of his shows, “Keep looking up!”
Compiled by Ken Raisanen of WOAS-FM – information provided by Abrams Planetarium Sky Calendar, Michigan State University. More information and subscription information can be found on the their website at http://abramsplanetarium.org/skycalendar/ or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AbramsSkyNotes. Yearly subscriptions cost $12 and can be started anytime.
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