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Monthly Sky Report - June 2006

To find the planets, bright stars and groups, you need to know the compass directions where you watch the sky. Lacking a compass, you can use the sun at the start, middle and end of the day. As you face the rising sun - it will be rising to the left (North) of East. In mid day (around 1 p.m. DST), look at your shadow which then points North. The sun will set a bit to the right (North) of West.

During June, there is an average of 14.9 hours of sunlight each day. During June, the sunsets advance from about 8:36 p.m. to 8:47 p.m. Sunrises change from 5:49 a.m. early in the month to 5:51 a.m. at month's end. Stars begin to fade away an hour before sunrise and the star groups come into view an hour after sunset. Near the top of the sky in the early evening is the bright golden star Arcturus, now the brightest evening star. Look high in the North and you can see how the Big Dipper's handle can be extended to Arcturus. The second brightest star is white-blue Vega, about one third of the way up in the Northeast. The third brightest star is golden Capella, twinkling low in the Northwest. But the brightest point of light in the evening sky is the very bright planet Jupiter, shining low in the Southeast. You can distinguish Jupiter from the bright stars as it's about ten times brighter and it shines steadily, not twinkling as the night stars. Below and to the left of Jupiter is the bright pinkish star Antares, which marks the head of the Scorpion. Late on moonless evenings, a delicate glow can be seen running through the eastern sky; this is the Milky Way, the glow along the central plane of our galaxy.

In the first few days of June, the moon is low in the western dusk, growing to half full on the 3rd. The moon will appear near Spica, Virgo's brightest star on the evening of the 6th. The moon will appear near the bright planet Jupiter, to the right of Jupiter on the 7th and to the left on the 8th. On June 10th, the moon appears near the bright star Antares low in the Southeast.

The evening moon is full on the 11th, shining in front of the star group Ophiuchus (the 13th zodiac star group). This full moon has the lowest sky path of the year, being in view for only 8.5 hours. June's full moon is known as the Rose Moon, Flower Moon or Strawberry Moon. After June 14th, the moon shifts in the morning sky, not rising till after midnight. On the evening of June 17th, the planets Mars and Saturn appear about one moon width apart low in the western dusk. Saturn is then slightly brighter than Mars, appearing to the left.

Summer officially begins on June 21st; on that day, the sun crests highest in the South for the year. This is also the longest day of the year, the sun shining for 15 hours. On June 23rd, the crescent moon appears near the brilliant planet Venus, low in the eastern dawn. The moon returns to the western dusk on June 26th, then appearing near the planet Mercury. On the next two evenings, the moon appears near the planets Saturn and Mars.

Astronomy Activities
The Cumberland Astronomy Club will have their meeting on Friday, June 16th at 7:30 p.m. at the LaVale Public Library. All interested sky gazers are welcome.

Our regular Planetarium programs on Sundays will resume in mid September. Call (301) 687-4270 and press 2 to find our schedule of programs during June. The Planetarium is in Tawes 302, near the middle of the Frostburg State campus.










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