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June 9, 2019 at 7:27 am #9842Anonymous
The Night Sky This Month – June 2019
June marks a time of turning in the night sky as the relatively star-poor constellations of the past few months give way to the rich star fields along the plane of the Milky Way. All five bright planets are visible in June. Jupiter reaches opposition and makes its closest approach to Earth this year, while the Sun reaches the June solstice marking a welcome change of seasons.
31 May 2019 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Walt Whitman, the quintessentially American poet and the poet-laureate of stargazers everywhere on account of his two short poems on the experience of contemplating the night sky…
5 June. Look low over the west-north western horizon after sunset with binoculars and try to spot the wafer-thin crescent Moon, the planet Mercury, and the planet Mars arranged in a 17o-long diagonal. A beautiful sight!
6 June. Today the waxing crescent Moon is just two finger-widths (about 4º) to the west of the Beehive star cluster (Messier 44) in the constellation Cancer in the western sky after sunset. Yet another opportunity for pleasant viewing with a pair of binoculars.
June 10th: The planet Jupiter reaches opposition, rising in the east as the Sun sets in the west. This marks the closest approach of Jupiter to Earth this year. The big planet lies along the southern reaches of the ecliptic in the constellation Ophiuchus. This makes it challenging for northern-hemisphere observers because the planet is low over the horizon and obscured a thicker layer of atmosphere.
17 June. Back to Mars and Mercury again! Look to the northwest after sunset, just over the horizon, to see the two planets just half a degree apart. Mercury, at magnitude +0.1 this evening, is noticeably brighter than Mars which shines at magnitude +1.8. Again, binoculars will help with this observation.
18 June. Look eastward about mid=ight to see Saturn and the nearly-full Moon rising together just a degree apart. The ringed planet continues to grow larger and brighter this month on the way to opposition on July 9. The planet rises about an hour after sunset in mid-month. It shines at magnitude +0.1 just above and east of the Teapot of the constellation Sagittarius. Like Jupiter, the planet is far south along the ecliptic and presents a challenge this year to northern observers but a delight to deep-southern observers who will see the planet nearly overhead.
21 June. The Sun reaches its most northerly point on the ecliptic and appears to ‘stand still’ at the June solstice. This marks the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere, as well as the longest and shortest days of the year, respectively.
The Summer Milky Way looks splendid arcing overhead if you stand and look south!
JUPITER – IS THE GREAT RED SPOT UNRAVELLING?
Around the world, amateur astronomers are monitoring a strange phenomenon on the verge of Jupiter's Great Red Spot. The giant storm appears to be unravelling. The plume of gas is enormous, stretching more than 10,000 km from the central storm to a nearby jet stream that appears to be carrying it away. Currently such a streamer is peeling off every week or so. The Great Red Spot is the biggest storm in the Solar System –an anticyclone wider than Earth with winds blowing 350 mph. Astronomers have been observing it for hundreds of years. In recent decades, the Great Red Spot has been shrinking. Once it was wide enough to swallow three Earths; now only one of our planet could fit inside it. That has led some researchers to wonder if the GRS could break up or disappear within our lifetimes.
Mega constellations of human-made satellites could soon blight the view of the night sky, astronomers warned following the launch of Elon Musk’s Starlink probes in May.
The first 60 of an intended 12,000 satellites were successfully blasted into orbit on Thursday by Musk’s company, SpaceX, which plans to use them to beam internet communication from space down to Earth.
Sightings of the procession of satellites trailing across the heavens, such as that posted online by the amateur astronomer Marco Langbroek, initially prompted excitement and astonishment.
The spectacle was so bizarre that a Dutch UFO website was inundated with more than 150 reports from people suspecting an alien encounter was close at hand.
A couple of books coming soon and worth looking out for!
A survey found that 2% of Americans firmly believe the Earth is flat, with interesting differences segmented by age, religion, income, and political affiliation.
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