This Month’s Sky – June 2014

AAA Observers’ June Guide

June’s Evening Planets: Jupiter is viewed in Gemini the Twins until around 11:00 p.m. in the beginning of June, then disappearing earlier every evening until the end of June. Mars will be in Virgo the Maiden and Saturn will be close to Libra the Scales all night. Dwarf planet Pluto will be in Sagittarius the Archer, and will linger through the morning.

June’s Evening Stars: Spot the Summer Triangle of Vega in Lyra the Harp, Deneb in Cygnus the Swan, and Altair in Aquila the Eagle every night. They rise at 10:00 p.m. in the beginning of the month and then earlier each day. Sirius, the brightest star viewed from Earth, in Canis Major the Great Dog, is out for an hour after sunset for the first half of June. Spot the brightest summer stars viewed from northern hemisphere; Arcturus in Boötes the Herdsman, Vega in Lyra the Harp, and Capella in Auriga the Charioteer. Spot Antares in Scorpio the Scorpion. Also the stars of constellations Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Draco, Virgo, Libra, and the two Dippers travel the sky.

June’s Morning Planets: Venus and Uranus will rise in Pisces the Fish in the early morning. Blue Neptune will be in Aquarius the Water Bearer until early morning. Mars will linger until about 3:00 a.m., and by the end of the month it won’t be visible after 1:00 a.m. Saturn and Pluto will linger in the early morning sky for all of June. Mercury will be visible one hour before sunrise in the last week of June.

June’s Morning Stars: The Summer Triangle of Vega in Lyra the Harp, Deneb in Cygnus the Swan, and Altair in Aquila the Eagle will be visible though the early morning. Spot Spica in Virgo the Maiden, Arcturus in Boötes the Herdsman, and the stars of Sagittarius the Archer, Libra the Scales, Aquarius the Water Bearer, and Scorpio the Scorpion.

June’s “Skylights”

June 3 Four planets line-up Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, Mercury. Moon is at apogee (251,628 miles from Earth) 12:26 a.m. (EST)
June 4 Moon is 6° south of Jupiter at 4:00 a.m. (EST)
June 5 First Quarter Moon at 4:39 p.m.
June 7 Moon is 1.5° south of Mars at 9:00 p.m. (EST)
June 10 Moon is 0.5 ° south of Saturn at 3:00 p.m. (EST)
June 13 Full Moon at 12:11 p.m. (EST)
June 14 Moon is at perigee (224,936 miles from Earth) 11:30 p.m. (EST)
June 18 Moon is 5° north of Neptune 6:00 a.m. (EST)
June 19 Last Quarter Moon at 2:39 p.m. (EST)
June 21 Summer Solstice 6:51 a.m. (EST)
June 27 New Moon at 4:08 a.m. (EST)
June 28 Moon is 5° south of Jupiter at 11:00 p.m. (EST)
June 30 Moon is at apogee (252,233 miles from Earth)

Mythology in Our Night Sky

The Tales of Scorpius and Orion

In Greek mythology, two prominent constellations in the northern hemisphere that appear at different times of the year come from the same tale. Orion, son of Poseidon, god of the sea, was a mighty hunter. Orion was the main hunter and meat provider for the gods at Olympus. One day, Artemis, (Diana in Latin) goddess of the Moon and of hunting, went with him to catch game. Orion was eager to be honored by the goddess company as they went into the woods. As soon as they saw a deer, Orion shot an arrow, killing it instantly. Artemis was impressed, and she reported Orion’s hunting skills to Zeus and the Olympian gods. Orion was pleased and wanted to influence Artemis more. So he went the next day, early with the dawn, to the woods and killed every animal and bird he found. He made a large pile of them in front of Artemis’ house and called her to come out and see. When Artemis viewed the huge pile of dead animals, she was upset. Artemis was the goddess of hunting but she did not allow anyone to kill more than they needed to eat. She was furious, stomping her foot on the ground to cause a small storm. A great scorpion came out of the dust, and stung Orion in his heel. The great hunter died from the scorpion sting. Zeus wanted to honor the mighty provider of his food, so he placed the constellation Orion in a prominent place in the sky that is visible in the fall and winter. The scorpion was also placed in the constellation Scorpius (also Scorpio) that we can see in spring and summer. When the scorpion is in the night sky, Orion will be hiding, until the scorpion sets and Orion rises. Scorpius is a southern hemisphere constellation, and is viewed for longer times during the year, from there.

Antares, the Heart of the Scorpion

Constellation Scorpius the Scorpion will be up in the sky (looking south) most of the night during summer, along with its brightest star – red supergiant, Antares. Antares is known as “heart of the scorpion”. Like many stars in the universe, Antares has a companion star, Antares B. From Earth, we see them as one star with the naked eye. Antares is the 16th brightest star in the sky, about 550 light-years, away and 12 billion years old. Its radius is approximately 850 times that of the Sun, and it is sized at 16 solar masses. It is much cooler than our Sun, but 10,000 times brighter, and its bolometric luminosity is about 65,000 times that of the Sun.