THREE OF THE NAKED-EYE BRIGHTNESS PLANETS will be visible in the eastern sky before sunrise this month. These are Venus, Jupiter and Mars. Mercury has left the scene, having dropped down to the horizon and become lost in the glare of the Sun.
In the evening sky, Saturn is holding it’s own, shining high and bright.
The major sky event this month for Australian skywatchers, is the total eclipse of the Moon on the morning of June 16.
Except where indicated, all of the phenomena described here can be seen with the unaided eye. And unless otherwise specified, dates and times are for the Australian Eastern Standard Time zone, and sky directions are from the point of view of an observer in the Southern Hemisphere.
New Moon occurs today at 7:03am Sydney time (June 1, 21:03 Universal Time). New Moon is the opposite of Full Moon, and means
The almost half-full Moon will be near the star Regulus (the brightest star in the constellation Leo) over these two days. On the 7th it will be to the left of Regulus, and on the 8th it will be above it.
It is First Quarter Moon today at 12:11pm Sydney time (02:11 Universal Time). First Quarter is a good time to look at the Moon through a telescope, as the sunlight angle means the craters and mountains are throwing nice shadows, making it easier to get that 3D effect.
Look for the Moon to the left of the planet Saturn in tonight’s evening sky.
Tonight the Moon will appear quite close to the star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo.
Today the Moon will be at the closest point in its orbit, called perigee. The distance between the two bodies will be 367,189 kilometres.
The planet Mercury has been getting lower and lower in our morning sky, and has been lost in the glare of the Sun for a couple of weeks. Today, it reaches “superior conjunction“, which means that it is on the opposite side of the Sun from us.
Look for the almost-full Moon to the left of the planet Antares in tonight’s evening sky. Antares is a red supergiant star, 800 times the size of our Sun!
June 16 – total eclipse of the Moon
Full Moon occurs today at 6:14am Sydney time (June 15, 20:14 Universal Time). But the big news for today is the total eclipse of the Moon, which for Australian observers will occur in the hours before sunrise. The Moon will be in the western sky, and will gradually move into the Earth shadow and become dark, dropping lower and lower toward the horizon. During a total eclipse, the Moon takes on a reddish hue—sometimes pale, sometimes intense. This occurs because some of the Sun’s light filters through Earth’s atmosphere and is refracted onto the Moon.
For Australian observers, there’s more information on the total lunar eclipse (including timings) at the IceInSpace site.
For New Zealand observers, please see the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand’s site.
Low in the east before sunrise, you’ll see bright Venus below and to the left of a ruddy-coloured star. This is Aldebaran, a giant orange-coloured star about 65 light-years from Earth.
Today is the Southern Hemisphere’s midwinter solstice, which means that the Sun is at its furthest north in the sky (at 3:17am Sydney time, or June 21 at 17:17 Universal Time). This is the day when the hours of sunlight are at their minimum.
It is Last Quarter Moon today at 9:48pm Sydney time (11:48 Universal Time).
Today the Moon will reach the farthest point in its orbit, apogee (the opposite of perigee), at a distance from Earth of 404,274 kilometres.
Have a look out to the east this morning, and you’ll see the crescent Moon quite near Jupiter.
Today the very thin crescent Moon will be just below the planet Mars in the pre-dawn eastern sky.
Finally, the very thin crescent Moon will appear above and to the left of the planet Venus. You can’t miss Venus – apart from the Sun and the Moon, it is the brightest object in the sky.
And finally, here’s the terrific Tanya Hill from the Melbourne Planetarium, with her Sky Notes for this month:
If you have any questions or comments on the night sky, we’d be happy to answer them. Please use the Feedback Form below. Happy stargazing!
Images courtesy IAU.
Get SpaceInfo.com.au daily updates by RSS or email! Click the RSS Feed link at the top right-hand corner of this page, and then save the RSS Feed page to your bookmarks. Or, enter your email address (privacy assured) and we’ll send you daily updates. Or follow us on Twitter, @spaceinfo_oz
Like this story? Please share or recommend it…