Astronomy

June

Evening Planets:
Venus is well up in the WNW as evening darkness falls. On 6 June, the planet obtains its highest altitude for this evening showing. On that date, the planet sets about 2.5 hours after Sunset. Venus also has a slight gain in brightness as the month progresses.
Mercury manages to get into the evening sky during the last week of June. The planet is very low on the lower right of Venus. The planet is stuck in the bright NWN twilight and will be hard to see.
` Jupiter is up in the SE as darkness falls. The planet loses a bit of brightness as the month progresses. The planet doesn’t get that high up in the sky for its evening showing.
Saturn at the end of the month is now a true evening planet. On 27 June, the planet rises as darkness falls in the SE. Saturn manages to brighten up a bit as the month progresses. The problem with telescopic observations of Saturn is its very low position in the sky makes it prone to atmospheric effects.
Asteroid 4 Vesta will be a very dim evening planet for this month only. On 19 June, this dim asteroid will be at its brightest for its short evening appearance.

Morning Planet:
Mars is the solo bright morning planet in the June Dawn skies. The planet rises after Midnight in the SE. The planet has a large increase in brightness as the month progresses. Next month, Mars will be an evening planet and will put on a bright display in the evening sky.

1 June Waning Gibbous Moon left of Saturn, Dawn
3 June Moon above Mars, Dawn
15 June Crescent Moon below Venus, Dusk
16 June Crescent Moon upper left of Venus, Dusk
19 June Asteroid 4 Vesta close approach, Evening
21 June Summer Solstice
23 June Waxing Gibbous Moon upper left of Jupiter, Evening
27 June Almost Full Moon very close to Saturn, Evening

Planet Saturn:
On the night of 27 -28 June, Saturn will be closest to the Earth for the year. This approach is one of Saturn more distant approaches to Earth and coupled with Saturn’s very low altitude in the sky makes this rather unfavorable showing. Planet watchers will struggle, trying to get good telescopic views of Saturn through atmospheric interference. Unfortunately for us, Saturn will be stuck in this poor low sky position until 2021.

Asteroid 4 Vesta
The Asteroid 4 Vesta is one of the largest asteroids and the brightest of all asteroids. On occasions, the asteroid comes relative close to the Earth so it can be seen with the unaided eye. During the month of June, the asteroid will be visible to the unaided eye. The asteroid will appear as a “very faint star” and just barely visible to the unaided eye. On the evening of 19 June, the asteroid will be at its brightest. Some sharp eyed individuals should be able to spot it. For the rest of us sky watchers, hand held binoculars will show it as a tiny point of light. The Moon will be 1 day before 1st Quarter Moon, so the moonlight will interfere some. It might be better to try for the asteroid after Moonset. The asteroid general position will be to the upper right of the planet Saturn. This is the best showing of the Asteroid 4 Vesta in decades. This may be worth the challenge of trying to see the asteroid with the unaided eye.

Written by
Gary T. Nowak
Vermont Astronomical Society