Moon and Planets, June 2011


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June 2011 Moon Phases

New                            June 1
First Quarter            June 8
Full Moon                  June 15
Last Quarter            June 23

The month of maximum sunlight opens with three bright planets in the predawn sky and Saturn in the evening sky.  The amount of sunlight is consistent throughout the month, only gaining about 15 minutes of daylight from June 1 through the solstice on June 21.  The maximum amount of daylight is 15 hours, 15 minutes in the Chicago area.

The chart below shows the predawn sky on June 2 at 4:30 a.m. in Chicago.  Bright Venus is near the east-northeastern horizon with Mars to the upper right.  Higher in the eastern sky is Jupiter.  Quickly moving Mercury has disappeared into the sun’s glow, moving directly behind the sun (superior conjunction) on June 13.  It appears low in the west-northwest at month’s end.

Venus, Mars, and Jupiter 4:30 am CDT in Chicago. Diagrams from Sky Calendar. Used with Permission.


On the evening of June 2, look for the thin crescent of a new moon in the western sky.   At 8:50 p.m., less than 29 hours after the new moon (in the Chicago area), look low in the west-northwest to see this young moon.  You’ll need a good view of the natural horizon.  While the photograph at the top of this posting is tilted at a different angle, the thin crescent represents the view.  Additionally, during the next few nights, as the moon’s crescent grows and it appears in a slightly darker sky, the moon’s night portion will gently glow.  While the moon is just past the new phase, from the moon, Earth is just past the full phase.  Just as when the bright full moon, casts shadows and illuminates the terrestrial landscape, the nearly full Earth does the same to the lunar landscape.  Look for this “Earthshine” on the moon during early June.

Look for a thin crescent moon on the evening of June 2.

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 As the moon moves through its celestial orbit and its phases, it will appear in the direction of Saturn on June 9 and June 10.  Through a telescope, Saturn’s rings are tilted slightly.  Saturn appears near the star Gamma Virginis, which itself a double star — two stars held together in a gravitational embrace, throughout the month.

The moon moves near Saturn in early June.

Back in the morning sky, Jupiter rapidly moves higher, rising noticably early each week.  By solstice day, Jupiter, Mars, and the Pleiades appear in the eastern predawn sky.  As noted in the Sky Calendar panel for this date, the next visible grouping of Mars and the star cluster is in 2017.

For those who tracked the planetary grouping in May with binoculars, another interesting pairing occurs in bright twilight on June 30.  At 4:50 a.m. in the Chicago area, with binoculars look for a thin crescent moon and Venus near the east, northeast horizon.
Venus and Moon during bright early morning twilight on June 30.

With maximum daylight during June, the planetary display continues in the predawn sky.  The golden jewel of the solar system, appears in the southern sky during the evening hours of the month.

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