Astronomy news for the week starting Friday, June
We begin with the Moon in the waxing
gibbous phase just two days past its first quarter (which took place on Wednesday, June 8).
It will fatten until it reaches full phase
on Wednesday the 15th, after which it will begin to fade in the waning gibbous. The evening of Friday the
10th, the Moon will be positioned to the southeast of Saturn and to the southwest of Spica, the three again making a nice
triangle. Then the following evening, look for Saturn, Spica, and
the Moon to make a northwest-to-southeast string. A little later
in the week, the waxing gibbous Moon brackets Scorpius, lying up and to the right of the Scorpion the
night of Monday the 13th then positioned just to the left of Antares on that of Tuesday the 14th.
With the Sun nearing the Summer
Solstice in classical Gemini
(technically just over the border into Taurus), this full Moon (the "Rose Moon" or "Flower
Moon") will fall near the Winter
Solstice in Sagittarius as it
glides low across the nighttime sky as viewed from North America.
On the night of Saturday the 11th, the Moon passes perigee, where
it is closest to Earth.
This full Moon will undergo an almost exactly central total
eclipse. Unfortunately for North America, it takes place in
mid-afternoon on Wednesday the 15th with the Moon firmly below the
horizon. Best visibility embraces Africa, India, the Indian Ocean,
and Antarctica (so if you are there, take a look).
The evening planetary sky belongs solely to Saturn, which now
transits the meridian to the south
shortly before sunset, so is nicely into the southwestern sky by
dark, but still does not set until 2 AM Daylight Time. On the
night of Monday the 13th, the ringed planet ends its slow
retrograde motion (westerly against the stars) and begins
normal easterly movement as it nearly butts up against the star Porrima (Gamma Virginis), the two a
mere quarter-degree apart.
With the progressively earlier rising of bright and unmistakable
Jupiter (now up by 3 AM Daylight, well in advance of twilight)
and the superior conjunction of Mercury with the Sun on Sunday the
12th, the planetary grouping we have been following is quite broken
up. Instead, we now see Jupiter, then Mars (rising half an
hour after the commencement of dawn), and finally Venus (rising half an hour after Mars) making a long
easterly line that falls down and to the left.
Two Crowns grace the near-summer sky. In the north, find the semi-
circular Northern Crown, Corona
Borealis, to the northeast of Arcturus, the figure commemorating
Ariadne of Theseus and the Minotaur fame. Lying just below the
main figure of Sagittarius, Corona Australis slides across the
southern horizon to the east of the lower curve of Scorpius, but
you need to have the Moon out of the way to see it.