This image taken recently with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope showcases the emission nebula NGC 2313. Emission nebulae are bright, diffuse clouds of ionized gas that emit their own light. Image: ESA/Hubble, R. Sahai.
Clear June Skies Reveal Much to See
BY JONATHAN TRUAX, ASTRONOMER, MUSKEGON COMMUNITY COLLEGE'S CARR-FLES PLANETARIUM
This month, the nights are short and darkness comes late, but clear skies are frequent and contain many wonderful delights for sky watchers.
During June nights, sky watchers have opportunities to enjoy four naked eye planets.
This month, locate the planet Venus low in the northwest about 40 minutes after sunset. Venus appears as a very bright white colored “star” near the horizon and below the twin stars Castor and Pollux of Gemini the twins. The waxing crescent moon is near Venus the nights of June 11 and 12.
The planet Mars and Venus are drawing closer together throughout the month toward a conjunction which takes place in July. Locate Mars this month in the western sky after sunset, just left or south of the star Pollux of Gemini and above Venus. Red-orange Mars is much dimmer than Venus and will very near the waxing crescent moon on the night of the 13th.
In the southeastern sky about three hours after sunset, look for the planets Jupiter and Saturn rising. The brighter of the two planets is Jupiter. Look for a brilliant white “star” shining among the stars of Capricorn the Sea-goat. Saturn is dimmer and more yellow to the right of or west of Jupiter. By dawn the planets can be found higher and in the southern sky. The waning gibbous moon is very close to Jupiter and Saturn the nights of June 28 through 29.
As darkness falls after sunset this month, high in the northwest, locate the “Big Dipper” formed by the stars of Ursa Major. Low on the northern horizon; find a “W” forming the stars of Cassiopeia. High in the western sky nearly overhead, locate Arcturus of Bootes, the brightest star of summer.
Low in the south southwest, just west of the bright blue star Spica, look for a trapezoid-shaped pattern of stars forming Corvus the Crow. Low in the south, locate the constellation of Scorpius the Scorpion, marked by the bright red star Antares. The nearly Full moon is very close to Antares the night of June 22nd.
Rising in the Eastern sky locate three bright stars all blue or white in color, forming the “Summer Triangle.” Low and to the northeast is Deneb, of Cygnus the Swan. Higher in the east is Vega, of Lyra the Harp. Furthest south of the trio is Altair, of Aquila the Eagle. By dawn the “Summer Triangle” can be found high overhead.
As dawn twilight begins, look low in the northeast to locate the bright yellow star Capella, one of the brightest stars.
The MCC Carr-Fles Planetarium is closed until August 2021. Visit the MCC Carr-Fles Planetarium website for upcoming events and call (231) 777-0289 for sky show information. Carr-Fles Planetarium is located on the Muskegon Community College campus in Room 135. Thanks to the generosity of the Reach for the Stars campaign donors, you can now experience Carr-Fles Planetarium with state-of-the-art digital projection, sound and lighting systems; all-new library of shows; and modern theater seating and domed ceiling.