Title: June Skywatch Highlights
Location: Hawaiian Islands
Date / Time: June 2013
Comments: Our late spring/early summer skies provide fascinating opportunities for stargazing. As the sky starts to darken, VENUS appears as a brilliant "evening star." (Hoku Kauahiahi). Currently at magnitude minus -3.7, it is spectacular high in the western sky at sunset! Venus reigns supreme in the evening sky, until reaching peak visibility in early December, when it shines brightest (mag. minus -4.7) & appears highest in the southwest as darkness falls. On June 25th, Venus forms a straight line with Gemini twin stars, Castor & Pollux, the same day it crosses from Gemini into Cancer. MERCURY will remain in close company with Venus, in the west-northwest at dusk, during the first three weeks of June. Use Venus to find Mercury. From June 6 ? 14, Mercury will appear about 4 degrees above Venus, shining at approx. zero magnitude. The 2 planets emerge from dusk around 7:30 p.m. & set around 8:45 p.m. The pair climb higher each night until June 12th, when Mercury reaches maximum elongation (greatest angular distance east of the Sun, about 24?). Then Mercury turns "retrograde," heading back toward the Sun. It moves from being to the upper left of Venus on the 15th, to being side by side on the 19th. Mercury appears lower & lower in the sky each night, its brightness fades & it appears fainter by the night. By the end of the month, Mercury is lost in the Sun's glow. While the 2 innermost planets huddle in the west at dusk, SATURN shines in the east & is overhead most of the night. Saturn stands nearly 45? high in the SSE at mid-twilight. Saturn shines at around 0.9 magnitude, & appears 13? east (to the left) of Spica, Virgo's brightest star. Saturn forms a triangle with Spica & Arcturus, the bright star which appears about 30? above/north of Saturn. Saturn appears noticeably brighter than Spica, & slightly dimmer than Arcturus. Notice Saturn's golden hue compared to blue-white Spica, & yellow-orange Arcturus. Saturn's rings open wider than they've been since 2006, tilting at 17? to our line of sight from Earth, & afford impressive views through even a small telescope. Look for the waxing gibbous Moon to pass near Spica & Saturn on June 17-19. June is the last month this year that The Southern Cross, (Crux), will be viewable (from Hawaiian Islands). To view Crux, you'll need an unobstructed view to the southern horizon. At mid-month, at around 8:00 PM, look for Crux standing upright, low on the southern horizon (nearly due South). Look for 2 bright stars, Alpha & Beta Centauri, which "point" to the Cross to their right/west. At this time of evening, you should be able to see all the way from Polaris, (the North Star), to the bottom star in the Southern Cross, Acrux; (An important Polynesian north-south navigational star-line, "Kaiwikuamo'o" ? the Backbone). 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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