Sky at a Glance June 17 – 24

Photo of constellations and the summer solstice.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, June 17 – June 24 ~by Curt Nason

With the late sunsets and extended twilight near the summer solstice, it is quite late before the constellations emerge. Therefore, I will give my fingers a rest and concentrate on the affairs of the solar system.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 5:27 am and sunset will occur at 9:12 pm, giving 15 hours, 45 minutes of daylight (5:35 am and 9:14 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 5:28 am and set at 9:14 pm, giving 15 hours, 46 minutes of daylight (5:36 am and 9:15 pm in Saint John). The Sun reaches its most northerly declination at 1:24 am on Wednesday, marking the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere. Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

The Moon is at third quarter on the morning of June 17 and it is new just before midnight next Friday. That it goes through a quarter phase in less than seven days indicates it is near perigee, its closest to Earth, at which time it orbits faster. Perigee occurs on Friday morning, bringing very high tides for next weekend. Jupiter and Saturn will delight evening observers for the next few months. On Monday a telescope at high magnification might reveal Jupiter’s moons Io and Europa in transit before 10:27 pm. A somewhat easier task will be observing the shadows of those moons on the planet’s cloud tops between 11:04 and 11:38 pm. Saturn is at its best viewing for the next 15 years, just past opposition and with the rings about as wide open as they get.

Venus rises two hours before the Sun and dominates the morning sky with its brilliance. Mercury is at superior conjunction behind the Sun on Wednesday, and it will join Jupiter and Saturn in the evening sky early next month. Mars is pretty much on summer vacation. It won’t be readily visible until mid-September in the morning sky.

If you have yet to plan your summer vacation, here are some opportunities to observe the sky through a variety of telescopes. RASC NB will be participating in a Canada-wide star party on July 29 with observing at Mactaquac Provincial Park and at the Irving Nature Park in Saint John. Weekend star parties with RASC NB members and park staff are being held at Mount Carleton on August 11-13 at the height of the Perseid meteor shower, at Fundy on September 15-17, and at Kouchibouguac on September 22-24. The summer astronomical highlight will be a partial eclipse of the Sun on the afternoon of August 21. RASC NB members will be offering safe views of this event through filtered telescopes and a limited number of free eclipse glasses for personal viewing. Locations will be provided in the August reports.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *