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THIS MONTH’S SKY - June 2012


This Month’s Sky
June 2012

Evening Planets. The biggest event of June is the rare transit of Venus across the face of the Sun. Details are described below. The evening sky is left to Mercury, Mars and Saturn. Mercury, setting in the northwest, becomes easy to spot after the middle of June. Mars is fading but still bright in Leo. Saturn is next door in Virgo, the following zodiac constellation.

Evening Stars. The Big Dipper, nearly overhead, is easiest to see this time of year. Follow the arc formed by its handle to the brilliant star Arcturus in the constellation Boötes, then continue to spot Spica in Virgo (close to Saturn). As the sky darkens locate the Summer Triangle rising in the east. Near the southern horizon, see if you can spot Scorpius.

Morning Planets. Jupiter moved into the morning sky last month, and is now being followed by a rapidly-moving Venus. The two planets are closest on June 18th, only two degrees apart, and will remain close together for some time. They are joined by the star Aldebaran.

Morning Stars. The Summer Triangle (Lyra, Cygnus and Aquila), overhead last month, has moved slightly to the west. Further west is Hercules. Most of the sky now belongs to the constellations of autumn, including Pegasus, Andromeda and Perseus as well as fainter Capricornus and Aquarius.

June’s Events:
1 – Spica is 1.5° and Saturn 7° north of the Moon.
4 – Full Moon at 7:12 AM EDT.
5 – Neptune is stationary, beginning retrograde motion.
5 – TRANSIT OF VENUS: At 6:03 PM on the evening of June 5th, Venus will begin to pass in front of the Sun. As seen through a telescope, binoculars or the naked eye (PROPERLY FILTERED) a dark notch will appear that will slowly grow until at 6:22 PM a circular dark area appears, which will move across the Sun for the next few hours, until sunset. Because Venus is between Earth and the Sun we are looking at its dark side.
7 – Jupiter is 5° south of the Pleiades star cluster.
11 – Last Quarter Moon at 6:41 AM EDT.
15 – Venus is 4° north of Aldebaran.
17 – Jupiter is 1.1° south of the Moon.
18 – Venus is 2° south of the Moon.
19 – New Moon at 11:02 AM EDT.
20 – Summer begins at 7:09 PM EDT.
21 – Mercury is 5° south of Pollux and 6° north of the Moon.
25 – Mars is 6° north of the Moon.
26 – Saturn stationary, resuming direct motion.
26 – First Quarter Moon at 11:30 PM EDT.
27 – Spica 1.4° north of the Moon.
27 – Saturn 6° north of the Moon.
29 – Pluto is at opposition.