Greg Redfern, wtop.com
Summer begins June 21 at 1:16 p.m. EDT and marks the longest period of sunshine for the year. With the shorter nights of summer there is still plenty to see in the sky and experience in local area events.
- Mercury will be low in the west-northwest after sunset beginning June 22. If you have a clear and unobstructed horizon you should be able to see golden-yellow Mercury. On the 30th Mercury will be lined up with two stars - Castor and Pollux, and will be on the left. This will help zero in on this elusive planet.
- Venus is low in the east-northeast and visible about a half hour before sunrise.
- Mars is dim in the east-northeast and visible about an hour before sunrise. The thin crescent Moon will be just above and to the right of Mars on the 28th. Use the Moon as a guide to finding Mars.
- Jupiter claims its title "King of the Planets" as it dominates the eastern sky several hours before sunrise.
- Saturn is up in the south sky at sunset. The ringed planet is very close to a famous double star, Porrima (Gamma Virginis) all month. The two will be closest on June 11. Saturn is the brighter of the two and both will be visible in a telescope eyepiece - quite a sight with Saturn's rings and a double star in the same field of view! The Moon glides below this duo on the 9th and 10th.
- New Moon is on the 1st, First Quarter Moon is on the 8thth and this month's Full Moon occurs on the 15th. This month's Full Moon is called the "Full Strawberry Moon" in recognition of the strawberry harvesting season. Last Quarter Moon is on the 23rd. Just before dawn the waning crescent Moon passes below the Pleiades star cluster on the 28th.
Here are our down to Earth events for this month:
- Open House at the Department of Astronomy at the University of Maryland, College Park Campus Observatory, will be 8 p.m. on the 5th and the 20th.
- The National Capital Astronomers (NCA) have their monthly meeting on the 11th at 7:30 p.m. at the University of Maryland, College Park Campus Observatory. The meeting will be dedicated to Science Fair Winners + Pizza!
- The Northern Virginia Astronomy Club (NOVAC) will meet 7 p.m. at George Mason University (GMU) on the 12th. The speaker is Robert Zimmerman and his topic is "What's Past is Prologue: Predicting the Future of Space Travel."
- The Northern Virginia Astronomy Club (NOVAC) will hold a public star party at Great Meadows on the 24th from 7:30 to 11 p.m.
- The United States Naval Observatory (USNO) has Monday night tours but space is limited.
- The National Air and Space Museum (NASM) has several space related activities this month.
- The TriState Astronomers General Meeting will not have a meeting this month as the Brish Planetarium is closed for the summer.
- We have a new addition to our monthly events, the Astronomical Society of Greenbelt (formerly the Greenbelt Astronomy Club) will hold a star party on the 11th and 25th starting at 9 p.m. at the Northway Field and Observatory. ASG will meet on the 30th at 7:30 at the Greenbelt Community Center.
Got a Topic That Interests You? I literally have a whole universe of topics to select from for my column. But I'm interested in hearing from WTOP readers about what interests them. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com with your suggestions and comments.
I have also started a daily blog that you can follow here.