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The Skies of June, 2023

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June Skies

by Dick Cookman

June 4, 2023

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

Focus Constellations: Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Camelopardalis, Lynx, Leo Minor, Leo, Virgo, Coma Berenices, Bootes, Ophiucus, Hercules, Lyra, Cygnus

Comet Journals

Tenth magnitude Comet C/2023 E1 (ATLAS) has joined 9th magnitude Comet C/2021 T4 Lemmon in June skies. The latter may approach naked eye visibility in July. The former is an inner Kuiper Belt object and is currently in Draco. It will circuit through northern hemisphere skies this summer when it may brighten to 9th magnitude. It will pass perihelion on July 1 and be closest to Earth on August 18. Comet Lemmon is an Oort Belt comet. It is in Cetus in southern hemisphere skies and will move into Sculptor by months end. It will be closest to Earth on July 20 and then pass perihelion on the 31st. It will enter northern hemisphere skies at the end of the year as it retreats into the distant yonder.

Mars Landers

Ingenuity – the little rotorcraft that could! On April 2, after 49 flights scouting ahead for the Perseverance Rover, the Ingenuity team failed in their attempt to uplink instructions for the next flight. On the 40th flight, the rotorcraft began struggling with wintertime communication brownouts as it occasionally slipped into low-power mode. The April 2 (Sol 755) blackout ended on Sol 762 when quiet pings received by the rover from the spunky space helicopter confirmed that it had not died. Perseverance and Ingenuity were investigating the Jezero Delta and became separated by a ridge which interrupted communication. During the blackout, the rover moved toward the last known location of the helicopter and finally received the pings when approaching within 262 feet of its location, allowing the team to uplink flight 50 instructions.

Meteor Showers

Lyrid/Bootid meteor showers are possible June respites from May’s meteor deficient skies.

  • June 16: Lyrids, Active (?) June 11-June 21. Radiant 18h32m 35°. ZHR variable. 31 km/sec. 2 days before New Moon. Progenitor: ?
  • June 27: Bootids, Active June 22-July 2. Radiant 14h56m 48°. ZHR up to 100. 18 km/sec. 1 day after 1st quarter Moon. Progenitor: Comet 7P/Pons-Winnecke

Planet Plottings

Kepler died in 1630 and Galileo died right after Isaac Newton was born in 1642. In a letter to Robert Hooke in 1675 Newton wrote “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Galileo and Kepler certainly are among the giants. After an extremely troubled childhood, In college, Newton graduated from Plato and Aristotle to Descartes, Robert Boyle, Galileo, and Kepler and incorporated their discoveries into a cohesive format that we call classical physics over the next few decades. To make the necessary accurate predictions concerning motion and gravitation, he had to invent a new branch of mathematics. Recent work by Einstein and others with even more advanced mathematics reveals newtonian predictions fail only under the most extreme motion and gravitation conditions. Newton also was one of the earliest developers of rigorous optical science. He discovered white light composition and integrated color into the science of light, laying the foundation for modern physical optics.

Mercury (0.4 to -2.1) in Aries and Gemini, Uranus (5.8) in Aries, Jupiter (-1.9 to -2.1) in Aries, Neptune (7.9) in Pisces, and Saturn (1.0 to 0.8) in Aquarius are morning planets in June. Mercury passes 3.0° from Uranus on the 4th and is best viewed in the 1st half of June after which it drops into the glow of sunrise. The planets are arrayed in the above order along a line extending from Mercury near the ENE horizon to Saturn, high above the SSE horizon.

June is an awesome month to view brilliant Venus (-4.2 to -4.3) in Gemini and Leo. Red Mars (1.6 to 1.7) is much, much dimmer in Cancer and Leo. Both are evening planets. Venus is at greatest eastern elongation (45°) from the Sun on the 4th.

PlanetConstellation(s)MagnitudePlanet PassagesTimeDate
SunAries-26.5New Moon12:37AM EDT6/18
MercuryAries-Gemini0.4 to -2.1Uranus 3.0°N1:00AM EDT6/04
VenusGemini-Leo-4.2 to -4.3Max. East Elongation7:00AM EDT6/04
MarsCancer-Leo1.6 to 1.7   
JupiterAries-1.9 to -2.1   
SaturnAquarius1.0 to 0.8   
UranusAries5.8Mercury 3.0°S1:00AM EDT6/04

June Moon

The New Moon of June is in Taurus on the 18th at 12:37AM EDT, 3 days before the Summer Solstice at 10:58AM on the 21st. The New Moon marks the start of Lunation 1243 which ends 29.58 days later with the New Moon of July in Taurus on the 17th at 2:32PM EDT. The Full Moon is in Scorpius on the 3rd at 11:42PM EDT. The June Moon is called the “Flower, Rose, or Strawberry Moon” . It was called the “Dyan Moon” in Medieval England and for Celts it was the “Moon of Horses”. In China, it is the “Lotus Moon” and Colonial Americans called it “Rose Moon”. Anishnaabe (Odawa and Ojibwe) first people recognize the 6th Moon of the year as “Ode’imini-giizis” (Strawberry Moon) in the western dialect and “Baashkaabigonii-giizis” (Blooming Moon) in the eastern dialect.

Earth Haven Farm in Ontario documents the cultural teaching which explains the cycle of life and nature of the June Grandmother Moon of Creation as follows: “The medicine of the strawberry is reconciliation. It was during this moon cycle that communities usually held their annual feasts, welcoming everyone home, regardless of their differences over the past year, letting go of judgment and/or self-righteousness.”

Lunar Perigee distance (minimum lunar distance) is 226,714 mi. (57.91 Earth radiil) on the 6th at 7:06PM EDT. Lunar Apogee (maximum distance) is on June 22 at 2:30PM EDT at 251,895 mi. (63.42 Earth radii).

A waning gibbous Moon appears to pass Saturn on the 9th. The waning crescent passes Neptune on the 11th, Jupiter on the 14th, Uranus on the 15th, and Mercury on the 16th. The waxing crescent passes Venus on the 21st, and Mars on the 22nd.

PlanetConstellationMagnitudeMoon PassagesMoon PhaseMoon Age
SunTaurus-26.812:37AM EDT, 6/18New0 Days
-1.04.0°N, 5:00PM EDT, 6/16Waning Crescent28.21 Days
VenusCancer-4.34.0°N, 9:00PM EDT, 6/21Waxing Crescent3.85 Days
MarsLeo1.74.0°N, 6:00AM EDT, 6/22Waxing Crescent4.22 Days
JupiterAries-2.01.5°N, 3:00AM EDT, 6/14Waning Crescent25.63 Days
SaturnAquarius0.93.0°S, 4:00PM EDT, 6/9Waning Gibbous21.17Days
UranusAries5.82.0°N, 6:00AM EDT, 6/15Waning Crescent26.75 Days
NeptunePisces7.92.0° S, 4:00AM EDT, 6/11Waning Crescent22.67 Days


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