Astronomy

June Skies

Evening Planets:
Since Venus has left the evening sky; the only early evening planet is Mercury. The planet can be found in the Western sky at Dusk. On 4 June, Mercury reaches its highest altitude for this evening showing. The planet sets about 1 ½ hours after Sunset. After that date; things change rapidly for Mercury. Each evening Mercury loses some altitude and brightness. The planet is also moving into the brighter twilight after Sunset. By 14 June, the planet has moved in to the bright glow after Sunset and is lost from view.
Jupiter and Saturn make their moves and become late evening planets. Both planets manage to rise just before Midnight on the 1st of June. Saturn rises about 15 minutes after Jupiter in SSE. Both planets have slight increases in brightness as the month progresses. Both planets are near each other during the month of June. By the end of the month both planets rise as evening twilight fades and darkness falls.

Morning Planets:
Mars rises about 2 hours after Midnight in the SE. Mars has a nice increase in brightness as the month progresses. Later in the month, Mars gains some altitude and moves into the Constellation of Pisces. Pisces is a rather dim constellation and has no bright stars to detract from Mars. By the end of the month, Mars rises just after Midnight.
Venus appears low in the ENE sky around the 12th of June. Each morning the planet gets a bit higher and brighter. By 20 June, Venus rises about 1 hour before Sunrise. By the end of the month, Venus rises about 2 hours before Sunrise. At this time, Venus will be near the Hyades star cluster.

8 Jun Moon lower right of Jupiter, Pre-Dawn
9 Jun Moon lower left of Saturn, Pre-Dawn
13 Jun Last Quarter Moon near Mars, Dawn
19 Jun Venus Moon Occultation (Emergence), Dawn
20 Jun Summer Solstice
25 Jun Crescent Moon near bright star Regulus, Dusk
28 Jun First Quarter Moon near bright star Spica, Dusk

Venus Emergence from Lunar Occultation:
In the Dawn’s Twilight of the Early Morning of Friday 19 June; Venus will emerge from behind the dark side of the Lunar Crescent. This emergence is a rare spectacular event. The thin Crescent Moon will rise with Venus being blocked by the Lunar dark limb. After a few minutes, Venus will appear from behind the dark limb. Here’s the time table of this event for 19 June:
Crescent Moon Rise 3:59 am EDT
Venus Emerges 4:10 am EDT
Sun Rises 5:07 am EDT
People will need an extremely low and flat NE horizon to see this event. For the rest of us, we will have to wait until the Crescent Moon and Venus rise above the horizonal obstructions. As we get closer to Sunrise; the glare of Sunrise will make it more difficult to see the Crescent Moon and Venus. Since this emergence happens a few minutes after Moonrise and both objects will be in a very low position just above the horizon… These factors make this rare show less than favorable for our viewing area. Hand held binoculars will greatly enhance the viewing of this event.

Early Summer Solstice:
The Summer Solstice will happen at 5:44 pm EDT on Sunday 20 June, 2020. If you think this is an early arrival of Summer; you are correct. This is the earliest Summer Solstice in 124 years. The reason we are getting such an early Summer Solstice is due to calendar factors which gave us the early Spring (Vernal Equinox). This really early Spring allowed the Summer Solstice to advance as well to a real early position.

Gary T. Nowak
Vermont Astronomical Society