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What's Up for June?
What’s Up for June? Venus. And a planetary necklace spanning the sky from dusk to dawn.
Hello, and welcome. I’m Jane Houston Jones at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
June marks the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, when the sun is highest north of the celestial equator, when it makes its highest path across the sky. This means the days are long and the nights are short.
Make the best of the short nights and look for Venus a half hour after sunset, low on the western horizon. By mid-month, you’ll see Earth’s twin pass the pretty Beehive Star Cluster.
On the 15th check out the lineup of the slender crescent moon, the Beehive Cluster, Venus and Gemini’s twin namesake stars: Castor and Pollux.
Another pair of planets is nearby. Mars, which is just a dot or a small disk in a telescope now, pairs up with Leo’s brightest star Regulus, and is not too far from Saturn.
Keep an eye on the moon mid-month, too. It passes Venus on the 14th and Mars on the 16th.
Last year, steely-eyed observers caught a glimpse of Neptune near Jupiter. And this year you’ll find Uranus next to the king of the planets. It’s easy to know when you’ve spotted it. The blue-green color is unmistakeable. But you’ll have to wait until nearly dawn. Jupiter doesn’t even rise until after 2 a.m.
Even Pluto is worth hunting this month. The dwarf planet is a challenging object visible against the starry blanket of brighter Milky Way stars. You’ll need a good, experienced star tour guide and a dark sky with good southern horizons to spot it.
When school is out, you’ll be treated to an amazing Milky Way spiraling overhead from south to north, a little after midnight.
You might even see some shooting stars from June’s minor meteor showers this month.
You can learn more about NASA missions to all of these planets – Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Pluto and even Voyager’s flyby of Uranus at www.nasa.gov.
That’s all for this month. I’m Jane Houston Jones.
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