June Skies

Better late than never!

Its been a great week at Balsam and June is off to a great start. 78 degrees for a high is way better than 95 in Atlanta!

The night skies this month will be warm and occasionally hazy with summertime moisture. I have noticed that mostly cloudy skis at dusk often give way to beautiful clear skies by midnight or later.

A few planets on display this month. First Saturn is still very prominent high in the southern sky. Its close to the star Porrima (Gamma Virginis) so look for a bright dot right next to a dimmer one. Through binoculars or a small scope the rings are very obvious.

Jupiter is still a pre-dawn planet this month and rises 2-3 hours before the Sun. If you look closely you can spot Mars below and to the left and Venus a bit lower. This is the last remnant of the wonderful pre-dawn alignment of planets last month.

Later in the month you may be able to spot Mercury in the southwest just after sunset. It will form a nearly straight line with Pollux and Castor (the Gemin twins) the last few days of the month about 45 minutes after sunset.

The next full moon will be on the 15th so get your faint object observing in early or later in the month. June 21st is the longest day of the year  (Summer Solstice) and marks the real beginning of Summer.

Thats it for this month. Please email or post comments here if you have any questions about the night sky and astronomy.

Jim Stratigos

Resident Astronomer

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