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Sky Report -June 2011

Sights seen all through June 2011 – All through June, the sun has a high path across the day sky, cresting at about 80% of the way from the south point of the horizon  to the zenith (top of the sky). In mid June, we have nearly 15 hours of daylight. The June sky doesn’t really turn dark until 10 p.m. Then it begins to get light on June mornings about 4:30 a.m., giving us only 6.5 hours of star gazing. On June evenings, the most noticeable bright star is golden Arcturus, appearing nearly overhead. To the North of Arcturus is the Big Dipper whose handle ‘arcs’ to Arcturus. If we face North, the Big Dipper is beginning to descend in the North Northwest. The two lowest  stars of the scoop point down and right to the North Star, a modest solitary star about half way up in the North. If you face East, the striking bright white-blue star Vega will get your attention. Vega is the top star of the Summer Triangle, a trio of bright stars. On dark, moonless nights the Milky Way can be seen as a dull glow that runs through the lower Summer Triangle. Look low in the Southeast for the pink twinkling star Antares, marking the head of the Scorpion. The brightest evening star in the West is Regulus, the star marking the heart of Leo, the Lion. Regulus and the nearby stars to the right form a sickle.

Sky Sights for early June 2011– On June 1st, the moon swings from the morning to the evening side of the sun. On June 4th and 5th, a slender crescent moon may be seen low in the West as darkness falls. On the evening of June 7th, the nearly half full moon appears below the star Regulus of Leo. On the next evening, the evening moon appears half full, offering the best views of its craters and mountain ranges through binoculars or telescope. On June 10th, the moon appears below the bright planet Saturn, now in Virgo. In early June, there are three planets low in the eastern dawn, seen about 5:15 a.m. Brightest and lowest is the brilliant planet Venus. Then higher and farther to the right is the bright planet Jupiter. About a  quarter of the way from Venus to Jupiter is the dull planet Mars, likely requiring binoculars to be seen.

Sky Sights for middle June 2011 – The evening moon grows to full on the evening of June 15th, then appearing between the Scorpion (looks like a starry ‘J’) and Sagittarius (resembles an old fashioned tea pot). This full moon has the lowest sky path of the year, cresting less than one third of the way up in the South in the middle of the night. Often June full moons shine through much haze and look yellowish, possibly suggesting a ‘honey moon’. In the early morning dawn, the planet Venus has dropped lower in the 5:15 a.m. dawn. The planet Jupiter is easier to view in the southeastern dawn as its angle from the sun has increased.

Sky Sights for the end of June 2011  - The moon has now fled into the morning sky, appearing half full in the southern dawn on June 23rd. This is also a great opportunity to see the moon’s craters and mountain ranges with binoculars or a telescope. The moon then appears as a reversed ‘D’ with its bowed side facing the sun. If you are careful, you can observe the lunar features even in the early daylight hours. But never aim your binoculars or telescope at the sun; this will cause instantaneous and permanent blindness. At dawn on June 26th, the crescent moon appears to the left of the bright planet Jupiter. On June 28th, a slender crescent moon will appear below the Pleiades (7 Sisters) star cluster and above the planet Mars.  On June 30th, a very slender crescent moon will appear just to the left of the brilliant planet Venus very low in the 5:30 a.m. dawn.

Our Sunday public planetarium programs at Frostburg State will resume in September. But each month, the Cumberland Astronomy Club meets on the third Friday at 7:30 pm. at the LaVale Public Library. All interested are invited to attend. The Club also holds monthly public telescope sessions at Frostburg’s recreational complex that are announced in the Cumberland Times-News.   

By Dr. Bob Doyle

To contact Dr. Doyle, his mailing address is Planetarium, Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD 21532 or by email at rdoyle@frostburg.edu.









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