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SKY HAPPENINGS

Moab UT (at City Hall)
38O34’ N Latitude 109O33’ W Longitude
4048 ft - 1234 m

The Sky for June 2011
By Faylene Roth

 

June sunrise
and sunset times


DATE

SUNRISE

SUNSET

1
5:56am
8:37pm
2
5:55am
8:37pm
3
5:55am
8:38pm
4
5:55am
8:39pm
5
5:55am
8:39pm
6
5:54am
8:40pm
7
5:54am
8:40pm
8
5:54am
8:41pm
9
5:54am
8:41pm
10
5:54am
8:42pm
11
5:53am
8:42pm
12
5:53am
8:43pm
13
5:53am
8:43pm
14
5:53am
8:44pm
15
5:53am
8:44pm
16
5:53am
8:45pm
17
5:54am
8:45pm
18
5:54am
8:45pm
19
5:54am
8:45pm
20
5:54am
8:46pm
21
5:54am
8:46pm
22
5:54am
8:46pm
23
5:55am
8:46pm
24
5:55am
8:46pm
25
5:55am
8:46pm
26
5:56am
8:47pm
27
5:56am
8:47pm
28
5:56am
8:47pm
29
5:57pm
8:47pm
30
5:57pm
8:47pm

DAYLENGTH
The Earth's orbit is an ellipse with the sun closer to one end. At the Summer Solstice, the Earth's speed slows as it reaches the point in its orbit that is farthest from the sun. The result is very little change in the times of sunrise and sunset around the solstice. Three stages of twilight mark the transition from day to night. Civil twilight, which allows movement without artificial light, continues approximately one-half hour after sunset. Nautical twilight, which reveals shapes but not detail, lasts another half hour after sunset. Astronomical twilight, a faint glow above the horizon, is lengthened near the Summer Solstice. In June light lingers on the horizon nearly two hours after sunset. The reverse progression applies to dawn. (The time of sunrise and sunset assumes a flat horizon. Actual time may vary depending upon the landscape.)

MOON HAPPENINGS
June 1 - New Moon occurs at 3:03pm.
June 9 - First Quarter Moon sets soon after midnight.
June 15 - Full Moon occurs at 2:14pm and rises at 8:54pm.
June 23 - Last Quarter Moon rises soon after midnight.
(The time of moonrise and moonset assumes a flat horizon. Actual time may vary.)

SUMMER SOLSTICE
Once a year the tilt of the Earth's axis presents the northern hemisphere's face directly towards the sun. When this occurs the sun's location in the sky reaches its northernmost point. This year that point—the Summer Solstice—occurs June 21 at 11:16am. At that time the sun will be directly overhead at 23.44 degrees North latitude (tip of Baha). That is still about 15 degrees south of our latitude. If skies were to darken at 11:16am we would see that the sun is in the constellation Taurus. It's about the same position in the sky as the 0 magnitude star Arcturus (Bootes), which is overhead in our evening sky. Once the solstice point passes, the position of the sun in the daytime sky begins to move southward.

METEOR EVENTS
No major meteor showers occur in June, but the night sky is ablaze with overlapping minor meteor events. The most active period is when the radiant constellation is directly overhead. That's usually about 3:00am. However, early in June, meteors from the region of Hercules and Scorpius provide an opportunity to begin viewing between 10:00pm and midnight, continuing on until 3:00am. Around 3:00am on June 7 is a good time to look for fireballs originating from the region of Aries overhead. Around the same time look northward towards Perseus and southward towards Libra for more activity. During the middle of the month, a full moon obscures all but the brightest meteors, but some will be strong enough to be seen by the most determined meteor gazers. On the last night of June, as astronomical twilight fades, gaze northeastward towards Draco. Look for meteor activity in this region as Draco rises overhead around midnight.

Note: Hold your hand at arm’s length to measure apparent distances in the sky. The width of the little finger approximates 1.5 degrees. Middle, ring, and little finger touching represent about 5 degrees. The width of a fist is about 10 degrees. The fist with the thumb extended at a right angle equals 15 degrees. The hand stretched from thumb to little finger approximates 20-25 degrees. The diameter of both the full moon and the sun spans only 0.5 degree. Adjust for the size of your hand.

Primary Sources: USGS; U.S. Naval Observatory; Your Sky at http://www.fourmilab.ch/yoursky/

To find out when the space shuttle and International Space Station are visible from your location,
go to: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/index.html and click on Sighting Opportunities.

VISIBLE PLANETS
Jupiter - Even though Jupiter, Mars, and Venus appear in the early morning sky, only Jupiter is likely to be seen because all are very low on the horizon. Jupiter, first of the planets to rise, appears in the east as twilight brightens the morning sky. If viewing from a high vantage point, you may see it rise above the mountains or rim before sunlight claims the day. Jupiter rises (in Pisces) earlier each morning so it will be higher in the sky by the end of the month and easier to see before sunrise. On June 26 it appears about five degrees below the waning crescent moon. (Magnitude -2.3)

Mars - Use the distance scale below to locate Mars, a dim red orb, about fifteen degrees below Jupiter. After midmonth, Mars rises about one and one-half hours before sunrise (with the morning twilight) which may allow it to clear the surrounding landscape before twilight gives way to daylight. It rises with Aries, which will be too faint to see. (Magnitude +1.3)

Mercury - During the last week of the month, Mercury becomes visible in the evening sky about 45 minutes after sunset. Find a high vantage point to view it. If twin stars, Castor and Pollux, of Gemini, are visible in the northwestern sky, then you should be able to find Mercury. Trace a line downward from Castor (upper star) through Pollux and on to Mercury, which will be smaller but brighter than the twin stars. On June 28 it will be about five degrees south of Pollux in the constellation Taurus. (Magnitude -1.5 to -0.5)

Saturn - The only planet in the evening sky is Saturn, except for the brief window of opportunity to view Mercury at month's end. Saturn's steady golden light appears to the upper right of Spica in the constellation Virgo. June 9-11 the planet moves to within one-quarter degree below the star Porrima (in Virgo's center). Saturn then begins to drift eastward again across Virgo. On June 9/10 look for Saturn about 8 degrees north of the waxing gibbous moon. (Magnitude +0.5)

Venus - The brightest of planets is the last of the three morning planets to rise—less than an hour before the sun. It will be too low on our horizon to be easily seen . (Magnitude -3.9)

Note: Apparent magnitude values range from -4 to +6 for most planets and visible stars. The lower the value the brighter the object. A decrease of 1.0 magnitude is 2.5 times brighter.

MAJOR CONSTELLATIONS this MONTH

Overhead
Bootes
Corona Borealis
Hercules
Ophiucus
Virgo

Northward
Cassiopeia
Cepheus
Draco
Ursa Major
Ursa Minor

Eastward
Aquila
Cygnus
Lyra

Southward
Corvus
Crater
Libra
Scorpius

Westward
Cancer
Gemini
Hydra
Leo

The brightest evening stars mark the Summer Triangle in the eastern sky—Vega (Lyra), Deneb (Cygnus), and Altair (Aquila). Bright stars overhead are Arcturus (Bootes), Spica (Virgo), and Regulus (Leo).

Hold the star chart high above your head and match the compass directions to the direction you are facing. Adjust the star chart by orienting Ursa Major (Big Dipper) to match its position in the sky.

The star chart approximates the sky from astronomical twilight to midnight. As the night and month progresses, the constellations shift toward the northwest. The celestial equator is measured in hours (h).
The ecliptic is measured in degrees.

Moab sky chart April 2011

 
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