This Month’s Sky – June 2016

What’s Up in the Sky
AAA Observers’ June Guide
By Tony Faddoul

June’s Evening Planets: Jupiter will be in Leo the Li-on until 2:00 AM and setting earlier every night until midnight by the end of June. Mars will be in Libra the Scales and Saturn in Scorpio the Scorpion all night.

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 all night. Spot Spica in Virgo the Virgin, Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion, Arcturus in Boötes the Herdsman. Also find the stars of constellations Cassiopeia, Draco, Libra, Virgo, Hercules, Ophiuchus, Leo, Sagittarius Ursa Major and Ursa Minor (the Big and Little Dippers).

June’s Morning Planets: Mars will be in Libra the Scales until sunrise and sets earlier every night until 2:00 AM by the end of the month. Saturn is in Scorpio the Scorpion until sunrise. Uranus will be in Pisces the Fish around 4:00 AM and earlier every night until 2:00 AM by the end of the month. Neptune is in Aquarius the Water Bearer beginning at 2:00 AM, rising earlier every night. Mercury is between Cetus the Sea Monster and Taurus the Bull as of 5:00 AM. Dwarf Pluto is in Sagittarius the Archer from midnight until sunrise.

June’s Morning Stars: Spot the Summer Triangle of Vega in Lyra the Harp, Deneb in Cygnus the Swan, and Altair in Aquila the Eagle. Look for reddish Antares in Scorpius the Scorpion, Arcturus in Bootes the Herdsman, along with the stars of constellations Lyra, Hercules, Scorpius, Sagittarius, Aquarius, Capricornus, Aries, Ophiuchus, Pegasus, Cassiopeia, Draco, and the two Dippers :Ursa Major, and Ursa Minor.

June Skylights
June 3 Saturn is at opposition pre-dawn
June 3 Moon at perigee (224,400 miles away)
June 4 New Moon at 11:00 PM
June 12 First Quarter Moon at 4:10 AM
June 15 Moon at apogee (251,700 miles away)
June 16 Lyrids meteor shower peaks dawn
June 20 Full Moon at 7:00 AM
June 20 Summer Solstice at 6:35 PM
June 27 Last quarter moon at 2:20 PM
June 30 Mars is stationary pre-dawn



See Bright Saturn All June

This June is a great time for viewing ringed Saturn. It will be in opposition on June 3rd, and it will be at its closest and brightest for 2016. Saturn, the eighth brightest object in New York’s night sky (after the moon, planets:Venus, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, and stars Sirius and Arcturus) will be visible by naked eye all night.

What is opposition?
Opposition occurs when a planet is directly opposite the Sun from Earth’s perspective – a straight line is formed between the planet and the Sun, with the Earth between the two.

Where can I find Saturn?
In early June, Saturn will rise in the east around sunset in the constellation Scorpius, climbing to its highest point in the sky at midnight for opposition, still fairly low above the horizon. It will shine in golden brightness forming a triangle with reddish Mars and red star Antares, the brightest star in Scorpius. It will be visible all of June and July.

Saturn in Ancient Mythology
In Roman mythology, Saturn is the son of Uranus and Gaea. He’s a Titan and the father of the most powerful Olympian gods Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto and he’s known as Cronus in Greek Mythology. He’s the god of agriculture and often depicted with a sickle. He has Titan siblings and Giant siblings.

How Many Moons?
Saturn has 62 moons with confirmed orbits- that’s the largest number of moons for a planet in our Solar System. Only 53 of Saturn’s moons have names with Titan being the largest and most famous one. The second largest is Rhea, Cronus’ wife, then Iapetus his Titan-brother, Dione the goddess and mother of Venus, Tethys his Titaness-sister , Enceladus his Giant-brother, and Mimas another Giant-brother of Saturn.

How can I see Saturn’s rings in NY?
Saturn is the most distant planet that’s visible to the unaided eye. However, you need small telescopes or binoculars to view its rings or moons. You can join one of the AAA viewing teams in the five boroughs of New York City and look through their telescopes and enjoy the magnificent rings.