June 2011, Stars over Wollumbin, our Southern Skies

In June Grandfather Saturn still reigns alone over the night sky,

while little Mercury, at first invisible, will join Saturn in the late evenings toward the end of the month, too low to be observed though until early July.

Father Jupiter, now heralding the Sun in the pre-dawn sky, rises a bit higher and earlier above the eastern horizon every week.

Brother Mars and sister Venus are also in the pre-dawn sky, Mars higher and Venus lower above the eastern horizon.

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MERCURY forms his Superior Conjunction with the Sun, moving behind the Sun disk from our earthly viewpoint, on June 12, thus remaining invisible for a good part of the month of June.

Mercury will be above the horizon later in the months, bu still too close to the Sun to be easily observed. Our little brother will in fact reach his greatest elongation in the evening sky after the middle of July this year, a time of better visibility.

It could be possible to spot elusive Mercury at the very end of June, when he will align with the twin stars of Castor and Pollux of Gemini constellation, not long after sunset, but only if your western horizon is clear of trees or hills.

VENUSs is slowly moving closer to the eastern horizon, difficult to spot this month. 

By June 17 to 19 Venus will appear very close to Aldebaran, the alpha star of Taurus constellation, at around 6 am, just before sunrise. This conjunction, if you were able to see it, will form a sort of second eye in the head of the Celestial Bull.

By the end of June the tiny Waning Moon will be close to first Jupiter, then Mars and Venus, this perhaps the last chance to observe Venus before her complete absorption in the glare of the Sun.

After that Venus will disappear in the Sun light to return only in mid-October as the Evening Star, above the western horizon.

MARS emerged as a Morning Star around the middle of April, and, as the month of June advances he will become more easily visible.  A low, uncluttered horizon will be needed to spot him though, and a pairs of binoculars will make it easier.

Around the time of our southern Winter Solstice in Cancer (June 21), to the end of the month, it will be possible to observe Mars against the backdrop of Taurus constellation, between the two beautiful stars clusters Pleiades and Hyades.

Mars will continue to rise before the Sun until 2012.

JUPITER. Since the month of May we have been able to observe Jupiter in the pre-dawn sky, forming a rare group with Venus, Mercury and Mars in mid-May. Now the group has scattered, but Jupiter, still low, will rise a bit earlier and higher above the eastern horizon every week in June.

SATURN still dominates the night sky in June, becoming visible however a bit later every week, and less bright as the Earth slowly gains distance from it.

One thing that has made observing Saturn’s transit more interesting has been his proximity to the the gamma star of Virgo constellation, Porrima. Fifteen minutes of arc will separate Saturn from Porrima in the middle of June. This star is actually made up of two visually very close stars, but only a telescope could allow you to see that.

For watching purposes Saturn is the star of the show in the month of June.

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All the Sky Snapshots have been generated using Stellarium, a wonderful Planetarium freeware software.

Information for the Sky Events has been gathered from these web sites:

http://www.suite101.com/profile.cfm/kellykw

http://home.mira.net/~reynella/skywatch/ssky.htm#update

http://astroblogger.blogspot.com/

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/mjpowell/Astro/Naked-Eye-Planets/Naked-Eye-Planets.htm#PlanetList

http://www.astronomy.com/en/News-Observing/Sky%20this%20Month.aspx

http://www.curtrenz.com/astronomical.html

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