Sky at a Glance 2020 June 13 – 20

Photo showing the location of the constellations Hercules and Corona Borealis situated between the bright stars Arcturus and Vega in the southern night sky.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2020 June 13 – 20 ~by Curt Nason

Arcturus and Vega, the fourth and fifth brightest stars of the night sky, are seen high above in evening twilight. I use them to locate the constellation Hercules, which is one third of the way from Vega to Arcturus. Another constellation, the nominal crowning glory of the northern sky, is one third of the way from Arcturus to Vega. Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown, does not stand out among its neighbours or contain any popular telescopic treasures like Hercules does, but its semicircle of stars is pretty to look at. If you have a really clear view of the southern horizon you might catch the Southern Crown, Corona Australis, hugging the horizon below Sagittarius around 2 am this week or midnight in late July.

In mythology, Ariadne was the daughter of King Minos of Crete. She helped Theseus slay the bull-headed Minotaur and escape from the Labyrinth, and then accompanied him and his crew on a voyage home to Athens. Along the way they stopped at the island home of Dionysus, the god of wine. After a night of revelry the crew was made to leave without Ariadne, and Dionysus presented her with a beautiful crown if she would be his bride. The crown was placed in the sky to commemorate their wedding. The constellation also represents a bear’s den in a local aboriginal legend of the bear and seven hunters, which includes stars in the Big Dipper and Boötes.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 5:27 am and sunset will occur at 9:11 pm, giving 15 hours, 44 minutes of daylight (5:35 am and 9:13 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 5:27 am and set at 9:13 pm, giving 15 hours, 46 minutes of daylight (5:36 am and 9:15 pm in Saint John). The Sun reaches its most northerly point, our summer solstice, at 6:44 pm next Saturday.

The Moon is at third quarter and below Mars this Saturday, and it passes less than a binocular width below Uranus around 4 am on Wednesday. A highlight occurs at 5:10 Friday morning when Venus appears from behind the unlit side of the crescent Moon. With luck and preparation, binocular viewers in the southeastern part of the province (Moncton) might see the Moon pass in front of (occult) Venus at 4:23 am, just after it clears the horizon. Mercury sets an hour after sunset mid-week, with Jupiter rising at 11 pm followed by Saturn 17 minutes later. Mars will be half a binocular field below Neptune before morning twilight this weekend and Monday.

With astronomy meetings and outreach activities on hold, you can watch the local Sunday Night Astronomy Show at 8 pm and view archived shows.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason.

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