Title: June Skywatch Highlights
Location: Hawaiian Islands
Date / Time: June 2011
Comments: As we bid ALOHA to the glorious stars & constellations of winter, now setting with the Sun, we welcome the return of our resplendent summer skies. Scorpius, the Scorpion (AKA: Ka Makau Nui, the giant fishhook of Maui), is rising from the southeast at sunset. The stars & constellations of the Summer Triangle (Navigator's Triangle) rise from the northeast by 9 PM (Altair, in Aquila the Eagle; Vega in Lyra, the Lyre; & Deneb in Cygnus the Swan), And soon we'll be viewing beautiful bands of stars in our summer Milky Way. SATURN stands alone as the only naked-eye-viewable planet in our evening sky. Saturn lies in the constellation Virgo, & appears 15-degrees NW of Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Saturn shines at magnitude 0.75 which makes it slightly brighter than Spica, and a bit fainter than Arcturus (Hokule'a), which appears NE of the Ringed Planet. Notice the color contrast between golden Saturn, blue-white Spica, & yellow-orange Arcturus. Saturn appears close to (almost on top of) Virgo's second-brightest star, Gamma Virginis. Saturn's rings now tilt at 7-degrees from our line of sight, affording wonderful telescopic views of their various features all month. Brilliant JUPITER rises in the east at 3:30am in early June, & by 2am at the end of the month. At magnitude minus -2.2, it shines brighter than any point of light in the sky, except for Venus. Jupiter appears particularly conspicuous against the relatively dim background star of Pisces. With a small telescope or good binoculars, you can view Jupiter's 4 bright Galilean moons in their ever-changing configurations. Galileo first saw them nearly 400 years ago with a 1.5-inch telescope of lower quality than any available today. Stunning VENUS rises in the east at 4:40am at the start of June, & by 5am at month's end. Since the day starts to break around 5:15am, you will have a very short window to catch Venus in June. Still, you should be able to spot the planet, BLAZING at magnitude minus-3.9, low in the east. Look for MARS , low in the east about 4:45am, just above Venus. Mars has a pale orange glow. Shining at magnitude 1.4, Mars is 100 times dimmer than Venus, but it still shines as brightly as a fairly bright star. On June 19th, the Red Planet passes 4-degrees south of the Pleiades star cluster (M45), aka: the Seven Sisters or Makali'i. On June 28th, Mars lies 6-degrees southeast of M45, with a slender crescent Moon between the two objects; a lovely sight in the morning twilight. MERCURY passes behind the Sun, (from an Earthly perspective), on June 12th, then reappears in the evening sky by June 23rd. If you have a clear view to the western horizon, you should be able to spot Mercury, low in the west around 8pm, shining at magnitude minus-0.5. June is the last month each year to view The Southern Cross (Crux) from Hawaii. To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. Acrux, the bottom star of the Cross, rises only about six degrees above the horizon at it highest point. The best views of Crux in June will be between 8:00pm & 9:00pm, when the Cross stands upright, & nearly due south. Look for 2 bright stars low in the south, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which point to the Roman-style "cross" asterism to their right (west). June 21st marks the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year for the northern hemisphere, when the Sun reaches its maximum distance north of the celestial equator. In Hawaii, we'll have approximately 13 hours & 26 minutes between sunrise & sunset. For a June Hawaiian sky map, visit Bishop Museum Planetarium www.bishopmuseum.org/planetarium (bishopmuseum.org).

Maintained by Roz Reiner - Kauai, Hawaii

 

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