2018-6-1 : What’s Up in the Night Sky in June 2018?

What’s Up for June 2018? Saturn and Mars with the Moon at sunset

I hope this month’s evening weather will lure you outdoors for a wonderful summer evening’s viewing particularly in the East towards Seattle where Saturn and Mars dance around the Moon in the dusk sky!

Also at dusk, Jupiter is in the South over Port Angeles; and Venus in in the West over the Sooke Hills.

Before you go out and star-gaze maybe take a look at Stellarium.org :

“Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer.
It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. It is being used in planetarium projectors. Just set your coordinates and go.”

Installation is easy on your SmartPhone, PC or MAC. Set your location to Oak Bay, BC (or Victoria, BC).  You can move the “time forward” so if it is daytime, you can scroll forward to 11 pm. The image will show the moon already up in the night sky over Port Townsend and Seattle.

Early in June, near the Moon, you will see Saturn – just below the Moon towards Mount Baker. Scroll time forward and you will see Mars
rising in the SE over Mount Baker. Scroll right and you will see Jupiter already over the Olympic Mountains in the SW.

These two images below are taken four  hours apart. The first  at 11 pm  on June 1, 2018 shows the moon rising in the East with Jupiter ahead on the ecliptic.  At this time Venus can be seen at the far end in the West over the Sooke Hills.

This second image taken at 2:00 am , just 3 hours ahead shows Saturn already risen following the moon, with Mars now rising in the East all chasing the Moon. Venus has now already set in the West.

So now you start to “see” the “Salish Walk of the Planets” – the huge arch in the southern sky from East to West where the Sun, Moon and planets all take their daily walk. In astronomy we call the arch the ecliptic. The “walk” is an illusion as in fact it is the 24 hour spinning of the earth that makes the solar system bodies appear to move along this arc. The highest point in the ecliptic (arc) is quite low over Port Angeles now it is summer.

There are many videos on Youtube to visually explain this in more detail.

All other “stars” which are not solar system bodies, are mostly stars inside our own Milky Way Galaxy or are in fact whole galaxies themselves. The famous photograph taken by the Hubble Telescope is amazing in that almost every spot of light is a whole galaxy. Unlike the planets, Moon and Sun on the ecliptic, all the “stars” rotate anticlockwise around the North Star over 24 hours. Of course they are all “still” in the heavens. It is the Earth spinning that gives this illusion of movement.

First up is Saturn. It reaches its highest sunset altitude for the year this month and sets more than two hours after sunset.

You can’t miss Jupiter only a month after its opposition–when Earth was directly between Jupiter and the Sun. The best time to observe Jupiter through a telescope is 10:30 p.m. at the beginning of the month and as soon as it’s dark by the end of the month. Just aim your binoculars at the bright  planet for a view including the four Galilean moons. Or just enjoy Jupiter with  your unaided eye!

Saturn is at opposition June 27th, when it and the Sun are on opposite sides of Earth. It rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. Great Saturn viewing will last several more months. The best views this month will be just after midnight.
All year, the rings have been tilted wide open–almost 26 degrees wide this  month–giving us a great view of Saturn’s distinctive rings. The tilt offers us a view of the north polar region, so exquisitely imaged by the Cassini spacecraft.

Near Saturn, the brightest asteroid–Vesta–is so bright that it can be seen with your unaided eye. It will be visible for several months. A detailed star chart will help you pick out the asteroid from the stars. The summer Milky way provides a glittery backdrop.

Finally, Mars grows dramatically in brightness and size this month and is visible by 10:30 p.m. by month end. The best views are in the early morning hours. Earth’s closest approach with Mars is only a month away.  It’s the closest Mars has been to us since 2003.

You can catch up on solar system missions and all of NASA’s missions at:
www.nasa.gov

You can catch up on solar system missions like Insight, and all of NASA’s missions at www.nasa.gov

You can catch up on solar system “Search for Life” missions to Europa, Enceladus and Mars;  and all of NASA’s missions at www.nasa.gov

Dark Skies to all friends of Cattle Point Star Park.

This summary is from the transcript of “What’s Up in June 2018” by NASA announcer and astronomer Jane Houston Jones with specific permission for localization to Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park and the Oak Bay News.

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