Deep Southern Skies for June 2015
Village Journal #307
Welcome to a monthly description of our northern NSW night sky for June.
Venus and Jupiter approach each other while Saturn is alone.
Mercury close to slender crescent Moon.
Mercury close to Aldebaran.
Venus and Jupiter very close.
Jupiter, Venus and Moon make a fine sight.
Occultation of Uranus by the Moon.
3rd Full Moon.
10th Last Quarter.
10th Moon at perigee (closest to Earth at 369,711 km).
12th Occultation of Uranus by the Moon. Start 05:08 am, Finish 06:28 am.
16th New Moon.
24th First Quarter.
24th Moon at apogee (farthest from Earth at 404,132 km).
Mercury climbs its way into the eastern morning sky this month. On the 15th, Mercury is close to the slender crescent Moon. on the 23rd and 24th, the planet moves through the Hyades star cluster coming within 2° of the 1st magnitude star, Aldebaran. Aldebaran’s position south (right) of Mercury will identify which is which. On the 25th, this innermost world reaches its greatest elongation (22°) west of the Sun.
Venus spends a few days in Gemini before traversing Cancer and ending up in Leo towards month end. Venus reaches its greatest elongation (45°) east of the Sun on the 7th in the evening western sky and appears as a little First Quarter Moon through a telescope. Watching the early western sky during the month, Mercury moves closer to Jupiter each evening until it culminates in a spectacular rendezvous at month end when the pair are just 0.5° apart (one Moon diameter). The 4-day old crescent Moon forms a neat triangle with Venus and Jupiter on the 20th.
Earth is at Solstice on the 22nd when our daylight hours are shortest of just 10hr 19min. On this day, the Sun is at its most northernly declination of +23.5°.
Mars is in conjunction with the Sun on the 15th and remains hidden until August when it reappears in the morning sky in Gemini.
Jupiter, in the north-western evening sky, is in Cancer for the first third of the month. During the month, Venus, rising from below, appears to chase the slower moving Jupiter into Leo and catches up with it at month end. One of the best conjunctions of the year between Jupiter, Venus and the Moon, occurs on the 20th making for a fine sight (see the description for Venus).
Saturn just past opposition, can be seen in the eastern evening sky after dusk in Libra. On the 1st, the 13-day old waxing gibbous Moon appears nearby the ringed planet.
Uranus, in Pisces, rises around 2 am mid-month and best observed in the late morning eastern sky. On the 12th, the planet will be occulted by the 25-day old waning crescent Moon. Uranus will disappear behind the Moon’s bright limb at 05:08 am and reappear from the dark limb at twilight at 06:22 am.
Neptune rises around 11 pm mid-month in the evening eastern sky in Aquarius. The planet appears stationary in its course across the starry backdrop on the 13th, and then begins over five months of retrograde motion ending in November.
Dwarf planet Pluto, in Sagittarius, rises at dusk mid-month in the eastern evening sky.
Astronomy 2015 Australia. Quasar Publishing 2014.
2015 Australasian Sky Guide by Nick Lomb. Sydney Observatory. Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.