New Moon Reporter - June 2011 Newsletter
Careful planning for night sky observing is a must this time of year. June weather might be improving but the nights are getting shorter.
Best Dark Weekend: New moon occurs early this month and on a Wednesday thus the best weekend for evening observing is that last weekend of the month, after the last quarter moon. Strange but true.
Saturn is Best Evening Planet: It's getting further away and thus smaller each month. Try to observe the large storm occurring in its northern hemisphere. It causes a distinct line parallel to the rings.
Mercury Appears Later in June:The speedy one makes a brief evening appearance during the last week of the month.
Get out there! There's no time like summer for observing!
Remember to record what you've found at AstronomyLog.com.
There are two weeks best for observing Luna, during the first quarter (evening moon) and third quarter (morning moon). Observing of deep sky objects is best when the moon is below the horizon. For evening observing, this is near New Moon and Third Quarter.
- New moon on June 1
- First quarter on June 8
- Full on June 15
- Third quarter on June 23
Constellation of the Month - Hercules
Hercules has a distinctive asterism, several notable double stars and three deep sky objects that should not be missed. This is a good place to look when learning the night sky and when impressing friends with beautiful objects. Find two Messier objects, M13 and M92 as well as some colorful double stars in Hercules.
For evening viewing, the best choice this month is Saturn. It will be in Virgo near the bright star Porrima. It remains near its peak of visibility for most of the night throughout June. Saturn will outshine nearby Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo.
Late in the month Mercury will appear very low to the horizon just as the sun is setting. On the last Saturday of the month, the night of the third quarter Moon, it will be located directly between Pollux and the horizon just after sunset.
All of the other planets are visible in the morning or are too close to the sun for safe observing.
Comets, Asteroids and TLP*
This monthy provides a good opportunity to spot the large asteroid Prokne. During the third quarter moon, it’s located in the constellation Ophiuchus. It will be located near the star 72 Ophiuchi, south of Hercules. It’s a challenge object with a brightness of about magnitude 10.6. It will appear as a point of light, just like a typical star. Watch it over several nights to see it move and verify you've found it.
Suggestions for the Beginning Observer
Constellation Hunter: The center of Hercules is the "keystone" asterism, your target when finding it in the night sky. Located two-thirds of the way between the bright stars Acturus and Vega (in the constellations Bootes and Lyra, respectively). The moderate brightness of this asterism can make it difficult to find if you are at a dark sky location because the pattern will vanish into the sea of stars. Oddly enough, it’s easy with some light pollution. Imagine the keystone to be our hero’s torso then look for his arms and legs. Make your own choice as to where his head would be located.
Binocular Messier: Both of the two beautiful globular clusters in Hercules are visible in binoculars. Note the similarities, their differences and how easy or difficult each is to find them. If you need binoculars, check out these recommendations.
Don't forget to log your finds at AstronomyLog.com.
What's New on the Web
Becoming a skilled observer takes practice and the help of a mentor. Here's some articles from your online teacher.
To find objects with your telescope, learn how to star hop.
Remember the specifics of what you've seen by taking good observing notes.
Wishing you clear skies and warm toes,
This is issue #3, June 2011 of the New Moon Reporter.
New Moon Reporter is the monthly newsletter of AstronomyLog.com. It is distributed to members of our online community for no charge. Enjoy!
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* Things Like Pluto
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