Quarter Moon near Mars
Quarter Moon near Mars (Chris Vaughan, Starry Night Education)
This Week’s Sky: June 8 to 14

Look for the gibbous Moon near Saturn and Jupiter early in the week, and the quarter Moon passing Mars (and Neptune) on the weekend.

Tuesday, June 9 pre-dawn – Gibbous Moon near Saturn and Jupiter

Gibbous Moon near Saturn and Jupiter (Chris Vaughan, Starry Night Education)

After 24 hours of motion, the waning gibbous Moon will take up a position less than fist’s diameter to the lower left (or 8 degrees to the celestial east) of bright Jupiter – with dimmer, yellowish Saturn above and between them. The trio will cross the sky together in the post-midnight hours, and will offer another lovely photo opportunity when composed with an interesting landscape.

Friday, June 12 pre-dawn – Red Mars passes blue Neptune

Red Mars passes blue Neptune (Chris Vaughan, Starry Night Education)

In the southeastern pre-dawn sky on the mornings surrounding Friday, June 12, the faster orbital motion of reddish Mars (red line with dates:times) will carry it past distant, dim, and blue-tinted Neptune. At closest approach, Neptune will sit 1.5 degrees above (to the north of) Mars, allowing both planets to appear together in the field of view of amateur telescopes (red circle), although magnitude -0.19 Mars will shine nearly 1700 times brighter than magnitude 7.9 Neptune!

Saturday, June 13 pre-dawn – Quarter Moon near Mars

Quarter Moon near Mars (Chris Vaughan, Starry Night Education)

In the southeastern sky in the hours before dawn on Saturday, June 13, the waning half-illuminated Moon will pass four finger widths to the lower left (or 4.5 degrees to the celestial southeast) of Mars. The duo will fit into the field of view of binoculars (red circle) and will make a nice photo opportunity when composed with some interesting landscape.

Saturday, June 13 at 6:24 GMT – Last Quarter Moon

Last Quarter Moon (Chris Vaughan, Starry Night Education)

The Moon will reach its last quarter phase at 2:24 a.m. EDT, or 6:24 GMT, on Saturday, June 13. At last quarter, the Moon always rises around midnight and remains visible in the southern sky during morning daylight. At last quarter, the relative positions of the Earth, Sun and Moon cause us to see the Moon half-illuminated — on its western (left-hand) side. At last quarter, the Moon is also positioned ahead of the Earth in our trip around the Sun. About 3.5 hours later, Earth will occupy that same location in space. After this phase, the waning Moon will traverse the final quarter of its orbit around the earth, on the way to new Moon.

Sunday, June 14 overnight – Asteroid Pallas passes the Coathangar Cluster

In the evening sky on the evenings surrounding Sunday, June 14, the orbital motion (red path with labeled dates:times) of the main belt asteroid designated (2) Pallas will take it 1.5 finger widths to the upper left (or 1.5 degrees to the celestial north) of the Coathangar Cluster in the constellation of Vulpecula. Also considered an asterism, the Coathangar is an easy target for binoculars – located midway between the bright stars Vega and Altair. The magnitude 8.94 asteroid and most of the cluster’s stars will appear together in the field of view of backyard telescopes at low magnification (red circle).

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.FacebookTwitterEmail

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