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The Skies of June, 2021


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The Skies of June

by Dick Cookman

May 31, 2021


Highlights: Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Summer Solstice, Planet Plotting, June Moon

Focus Constellations: Ursa Minor, Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Camelopardalis, Ursa Major, Leo, Coma Berenices, Virgo, Bootes, Corona Borealis, Ophiuchus, Hercules, Lyra, Cygnus

Comet Journals

June skies lack bright comets. Comet C/2020 R4 (ATLAS) moves from Perseus to Auriga during the month but has dimmed to 12th magnitude as it embarks on its long journey back to the Oort Belt. C2020 T2 (Palomar) is at 11th magnitude. It is between Bootes and Virgo in June. It will pass through perihelion on July 10, then dim as it heads eastward along the ecliptic and returns to the Oort Belt.

Mars Landers

Perseverance rover is serving as a communications base station for Ingenuity Mars Helicopter and documenting the rotorcraft’s historic flights. The rover is also focusing its science instruments on rocks that lay on the floor of Jezero Crater in its astrobiology mission, which includes the search for signs of ancient microbial life. On its latest flight, Ingenuity was able to land after overcoming a glitch which interrupted the sequence of navigation camera images, causing mistimed navigation corrections.

The InSight lander’s solar panels were coated with dust as it buried its seismometer cable to improve Mars quake monitoring. Limited electrical output forced instrument shut down due to onset of winter.

9 year old Curiosity departed from Mont Mercou at the base Sulfate Unit on May 1 and conducted observations as it resumed its ascent of Mt. Sharp. During most of May, the ascent and observations were hindered by difficulties in closing a reluctant dust cover and stowing the remote sensing mast.

Summer Solstice

June solstice on the 20th, at 11:32PM EDT is the longest day, but earliest sunrise occurs on 6/14 and latest sunset is on 6/27. Earth rotates 360° in 23 hours, 56 minutes. Due to orbital motion, an average of ~ 4 more minutes of rotation is needed repeat solar noon. We have an elliptical orbit, causing our rate of movement around the Sun to change (fast when close at perihelion-winter, slow when far at aphelion-summer) so the 4 minute gap varies. In addition, Earth’s axis remains tilted in the same direction as we move around the Sun, making the apparent path of the Sun through the sky change through the seasons. These two factors combine to influence rise/set times and dates.

Meteor Showers

June Meteor showers include the Lyrids on the 15-16th and the Bootids on the 27th. The Lyrids are best viewed before dawn on the 16th after the waxing crescent Moon sets in Leo. The Bootids will be best in early evening on the 27th when Bootes is highest in the sky and the gibbous Moon is low.

  • June 15-16: Lyrids. Active June 10 – June 21 Radiant 18h32m 35°, ZHR 8-10. 66km/sec. Waxing Crescent Moon.: Progenitor: Comet C/1915 C1 Mellish.
  • June 27-28: Bootids. Active June 22-July 2, Radiant 14h54m 48°, ZHR 5 variable, 18 km/sec. Waning Gibbous Moon. Progenitor: Comet 7P/Pons-Winnecke.

Planet Plotting

Evening planets are Mercury (+3.2 to +1.0) in Taurus, Venus (-3.8) in Taurus/Cancer, and Mars (+1.7 to +1.8) in Gemini/Cancer. Mercury is very low in the western sky and disappears at Inferior Solar Conjunction on the 10th, then moves into the morning sky. Mars is visible in early June, dropping rapidly into the glow of sunset as it approaches Solar Conjunction in July. Venus sets slightly more than an hour after the Sun in June. Morning planets include Uranus (+5.9 to +5.8), buried in dawn’s glow in Aries. Neptune (+7.9) and Jupiter (-2.3 to -2.5) in Aquarius, and Saturn (+0.6 to +0.4) in Capricornus rise well after midnight.

June 1st’s waning gibbous Moon is 4.4° from Jupiter at 9:00AM EDT. A waning crescent Moon is 4.0° from Neptune at 1:00AM EDT on the 3rd and 2.2° from Uranus at 5:00AM EDT on the 7th. A waxing crescent Moon is 2.09° from Mercury at 9:00AM EDT on the 10th, 0.71° from Venus at 4:00AM EDT on the 12th, and 1.5° from Mars at 6:00PM EDT on the 13th. A waning gibbous Moon is 4.1° from Saturn at 8:00AM EDT on the 27th, 4.2° from Jupiter at 6PM EDT on the 28th, and 4.0° from Neptune at 9:00AM EDT on the 30th.

PlanetConstellation(s)MagnitudePlanet PassagesTimeDate
SunPisces, Aries-26.5New Moon6:53AM EDT6/10
MercuryTaurus+3.2 to +1.0Inferior Conjunction9:00PM EDT6/10
VenusTaurus, Gemini, Cancer-3.8   
MarsGemini, Cancer+1.7 to +1.8   
JupiterAquarius-2.3 to -2.5   
SaturnCapricornus+0.6 to +0.4   
UranusAries+5.9 to +5.8   
NeptuneAquarius+7.9   

June Moon

June’s New Moon on the 10th at 6:53AM EDT is the start of Lunation 1218 which ends 29.35 days later with the New Moon of July on the 9th at 9:17PM EDT. At sunrise on June 10 between 5:30AM and 6:30AM, the New Moon will eclipse the Sun. The Moon is near apogee (the maximum distance position in its elliptical orbit) and is too far from Earth to cover the entire Sun, so we are rewarded with a rare Annular Eclipse, where the almost eclipsed Sun appears as a bright ring around a dark Moon.

This event is open to the public at no charge! The annular phase of the solar eclipse is visible from parts of Russia, Greenland, and northern Canada. Weather permitting, observers in North Asia, Europe, and NE United States will see a partial eclipse as the rising crescent Sun adorns the eastern sky.

The Full Moon of June is on the 24th at 2:39PM EDT. It is commonly known as the “Rose, Flower, or Strawberry” Moon. In colonial times, the June Moon was the “Rose Moon” and in Medieval England, it was the “Dyan Moon.” Chinese call it “Lotus Moon” and Celts named it the “Horse’s” or “Mead” Moon. The Anishinaabe (Odawa & Ojibwe) people recognize it as “Odemiini-giizis” (Strawberry Moon.) Anishinaabe and other indigenous North Americans live on Turtle Island. Anishinaabe people traditionally utilized a Lunar calendar embodied by the 13 large scutes on the Turtle’s back. Each scute represents one of the Grandmother Moons “Nookimis Giizis”, and indicates seasonal changes and tasks that the people are to follow. The June (Strawberry Moon) is the right rear costal scute.

At Lunar apogee (maximum solar distance) on June 7 at 10:00PM EDT, the Moon will be 252,418 miles (63.69 Earth radii) away. Lunar perigee is on the 23rd at 5:52AM EDT when lunar distance is 223,666 miles (56.44 Earth radii). The Full Moon is only 33 hours removed from perigee (closest approach to Earth) making it a big, bright Supermoon, though not as big and bright as the April & May Supermoons.

PlanetConstellationMagnitudeMoon PassagesMoon PhaseMoon Age
SunPisces-26.86:53AM EDT, 6/10New0 days
MercuryTaurus5.52.09°NNW, 9:00AM EDT, 6/10Waxing Crescent0.09 Days
VenusGemini-3.80.71°NNW, 4:00AM EDT, 6/12Waxing Crescent1.88 Days
MarsCancer1.81.5°SSW, 6:00PM EDT, 6/13Waxing Crescent3.46 Days
JupiterAquarius-2.3
-2.5
4.4°SE, 9:00AM EDT, 6/1
4.2°SE, 6:00PM EDT, 6/28
Waning Gibbous
Waning Gibbous
20.44 Days
17.75 Days
SaturnCapricornus0.44.1°NW, 8:00AM EDT, 6/27Waning Gibbous17.05 Days
UranusAries5.92.2°NW, 5:00AM EDT, 6/7Waning Crescent26.27 Days
NeptuneAquarius7.94.0°NNW, 1:00AM EDT, 6/3
4.0°SE, 9:00AM EDT, 6/30
Waning Crescent
Waning Gibbous
22.10 Days
20.09 Days


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