Every week, SkyNews publishes a list of key events in the Canadian sky in This Week’s Sky. This series gives you all the latest news in Solar System movements, including where the planets are in our sky and Moon phases. From eclipses to meteor showers, This Week’s Sky keeps you updated on the best in upcoming astronomical highlights.
Monday, June 6 – Lunar X and V in Daytime (peaks at 21:30 UTC)
Several times a year, for a few hours just before first quarter, small features on the Moon called the Lunar X and the Lunar V become visible in strong binoculars and backyard telescopes. The bright X-shaped pattern appears when the rims of the craters Purbach, la Caille, and Blanchinus are illuminated from a particular angle of sunlight. Look for it along the terminator, about one third of the way from the southern pole of the Moon, at lunar coordinates 2 degrees east, 24 degrees south. The Lunar V will form along the northern span of the terminator near the crater Ukert. The features will begin to develop around 5 p.m. EDT (2 p.m. PDT and 21:00 UTC) on Monday, June 6, while the Moon is shining in a daylight sky in the Americas. They will peak in intensity about 90 minutes later and then disappear by about 8 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. PDT and 00:00 UTC). Viewing the Moon through polarized glasses in daytime will increase the image contrast. Observers in Europe and western Africa can see the features while the Moon shines in a dark sky.
Tuesday, June 7 – First quarter Moon (at 14:48 UTC)
The Moon will complete the first quarter of its orbit around Earth, measuring from the previous new Moon, on Tuesday, June 7 at 10:48 a.m. EDT, 7:48 a.m. PDT, or 14:48 UTC. The 90 degree angle formed by the Earth, sun, and Moon at that time will cause us to see our natural satellite half-illuminated – on its eastern side. At first quarter, the Moon always rises around mid-day and sets around midnight, allowing it to be seen in the afternoon daytime sky, too. The evenings surrounding the first quarter phase are the best ones for viewing the lunar terrain when it is dramatically lit by low-angled sunlight.
Friday, June 10 – Morning planet bonanza begins (before sunrise)
On Friday morning, June 10, the speedy planet Mercury will climb far enough west of the sun for it to become visible just above the east-northeastern horizon from mid-northern latitudes. Its arrival will allow the five bright planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn to be seen with unaided eyes, arranged in the order of their distance from the sun, until almost sunrise. The 90 degree long string of planets will remain visible for the rest of June. Owners of binoculars and telescopes can seek out the faint dot of blue-green Uranus near extremely bright Venus, and tiny, blue Neptune lurking between Jupiter and Saturn. Fine photo opportunities arrive when the waning Moon passes the planets from June 18 to 27.
Saturday, June 11 – Venus overtakes Uranus (before sunrise)
On Saturday morning, June 11, the faster motion of the extremely bright planet Venus will carry it past distant Uranus in the eastern pre-dawn sky. The two planets will be close enough to share the view in the eyepiece of a backyard telescope (inset), but bright, white Venus will outshine blue-green Uranus by a factor of 8000 times, making the fainter planet difficult to see against the glare. On Saturday, Venus will be positioned a thumb’s width below (or 1.7 degrees to the celestial south of) Uranus. They’ll be nearly as close on the following day, with Venus shifting left (east) by one degree. Observers at southerly latitudes, where the planets will appear higher in a darker sky, will get the best view of the conjunction.
Sunday, June 12 – Bright Moon occults Dschubba (10:18 pm EDT)
On Sunday evening, June 12, observers in the northeastern USA and eastern Canada can see the nearly full Moon occult the bright double star Dschubba or Delta Scorpii in binoculars and backyard telescopes (the view shown here). Exact timings will vary by location, so use Starry Night or another astronomy app to determine the precise times where you are. In New York City, the leading, dark edge of the Moon will cover the two stars at 10:19 p.m. EDT. They will emerge from behind the Moon’s opposite, bright limb at 11:07 p.m. EDT. Try to start watching a few minutes ahead of each time noted.
Chris Vaughan is a science writer, geophysicist, astronomer, planetary scientist and an “outreach RASCal.” He writes Astronomy Skylights, and you can follow him on Twitter at @astrogeoguy. He can also bring his Digital Starlab portable inflatable planetarium to your school or other daytime or evening event. Contact him through AstroGeo.ca to tour the Universe together.
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