Photo of the Week.Sirius (in Canis Major), the brightest star in the sky, hovers
over number two Canopus (in Carina of Argo) way down below. Lepus (the Hare) bounces along just above center right,
while stars of southern Orion
shine near the upper right corner.
Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, June 7, 2013.
We begin the week practically at the new Moon, which takes place on
Saturday, June 8, just a day before the Moon passes its apogee, the extra distance diminishing the surge of
new Moon tides at the coasts. Look for
the slim crescent in western twilight the
evening of Monday the 10th, when it will make a fine sight with Venus to the right and dimmer
Mercury up and to the right. The triangle with Mercury on top
will allow for a chance to see the littlest planet, the elusive one
that lies closest to the Sun. ( Pluto, at the far end of the planetary system, is smaller
yet, but is not officially counted as a "planet" any more.) By the
following evening, the Moon will have shifted up and to the left of
the bright pair. It then spends the remainder of the week as a waxing crescent, not reaching first quarter until Sunday the 16th.
With or without the Moon, Mercury and Venus linger together, with
Mercury up and to the left of its brighter mate. Mercury reaches
greatest eastern elongation on Wednesday the 12th, but is actually
a bit more visible in the few days before that event, the planet
not setting until twilight is nearly over. To see either of them,
you'll need a clear western horizon and to look early, especially
for Venus, which sets first. While
Jupiter is now but a memory, we still have Saturn to admire.
As the sky darkens, around 10 PM Daylight Time, look for
the ringed planet near the meridian to the south, Virgo's Spica to the west of it. Saturn brackets the night by
setting in the southwest just as dawn begins to illuminate the
eastern sky. Rising in bright twilight, Mars is
just too faint to see. In lesser news, Neptune begins
retrograde motion (westerly against the stars) on Friday the
With the Sun arriving at the Summer
Solstice next week on the night of Thursday the 20th, we see
the spring stars of Leo and even
Virgo moving to the western evening skies as the summer stars climb
the eastern. By midnight, great Scorpius lurks just to the east of the far southern
meridian, Sagittarius not far
behind it. Above Scorpius is the giant pentagon that makes Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, and
on top of that the hero Hercules.
Skimming the southern horizon will be the prominent stars of Lupus, the Wolf.