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What's Up...
Some observing hilights
to look forward to...

The following tips on current and upcoming astronomical events
have been gathered from magazines and other sources by Dave Gamble
with the objective of giving OC RASC members a heads-up on
special personal
astro-experiences to look forward to.

Fri. June 1 – The waning gibbous Moon will be in the vicinity of Saturn late tonight, adding interest to the busy ‘hub’ area of our Milky Way galaxy, posing just above the Teapot asterism of Sagittarius.

Sun. June 3 – The narrowing gibbous Moon will check out the rapid expansion and brightening of Mars tonight. The red planet will be just over the width of two fingers below the Moon. Meanwhile, brilliant Jupiter will be less than two Moon widths north of alpha Librae, the wonderfully named star Zubenelgenubi.

Wed. June 6 – This is Last Quarter Moon night, signaling the approach of the next dark moon period for deep sky observing, sketching and imaging. Our neighbour will be only the width of a finger from the blue outer planet Neptune. Binoculars will sort out which is Neptune, due to its steady, untwinkling light, while a telescope will add conclusive clues with its bluish colour and tiny disk.

Fri. June 8 – For those casting about for another reason to take a close look at Venus, tonight our nearest planetary neighbour will appear about the width of three fingers (about 5 degrees) below Pollux in the constellation Gemini in the western sky.

Sat. June 9 – Ever the tour director, the waning crescent Moon will pass about 5 degrees below the green ice giant Uranus in the wee hours tonight.

Sun. June 10 – There will be some celestial jewellery to admire low in the western sky early this evening. A horizontal bracelet featuring bright Venus strung with Gemini’s Pollux and Castor will grace the western horizon.

Wed. June 13 – This is New Moon night with our companion placed out of the way between us and the Sun. If the weatherman cooperates, this will mean that all of the brief summer hours of darkness will be available, allowing observers to ‘go deep’ for faint fuzzies and other subtle, hard to observe objects and wonders that need every advantage to view and image.

Fri. June 15 – Sharp-eyed observers with a low western horizon and a pair of binoculars may be tempted to seek out Mercury which is just in the process of entering the evening sky, after having moved eastward from behind the Sun only ten days ago.

Sat. June 16 - For those with a low western horizon, there will be a memorable sight available just after sunset this evening. The very thin crescent Moon will pose below brilliant Venus which is well into its performance as the ‘evening star’. Nearby will be the Beehive Cluster in the constellation Cancer.

Sun. June 17 – The waxing crescent Moon is rising higher into the evening sky. Tonight it will appear quite close to the bright star Regulus in Leo which is winding up its annual performance as a headliner of the spring sky.

Tues. June 19 – There will be an attractive target for binoculars tonight as  bright Venus will appear about a Moon’s width from the Beehive star cluster. Look for a fuzzy patch that should resolve itself into the group of tiny stars also known as Messier 44 and Praesepe ‘the manger’.

Tues. June 19 – For those who would like to add a bright asteroid to their list of celestial objects, Vesta is now in a great position to oblige. Tonight the fourth largest, but for various reasons the brightest asteroid, will reach opposition in Sagittarius, just above Saturn low in the southern night sky. Though it is the brightest of the ‘vermin of the sky’ as asteroids were once referred to, the target will be about magnitude 5.3 which is near the limit of naked eye observation, though easy with binoculars or a telescope. There is a great finder chart on Page 48 of the June issue of Sky & Telescope magazine which could also be accessed online.

Wed. June 20 – This is First Quarter Moon night. As evening sets, the perfectly divided half sphere will already be placed high in the sky to add magic and a certain symmetry to an Okanagan summer evening.

Thurs. June 21 - What happened???  Despite warm temperatures, the long delayed spring makes it seem unreal that we are already at the Summer Solstice. It seems amazing that starting tomorrow the days will begin to get shorter! But hold on, this is still a time for celebration according to the Druids. The actual moment of Solstice will be at 3.07am.

Sat. June 23 – Tonight the waxing gibbous Moon will be in the vicinity of bright Jupiter, adding interest to Okanagan summer evening scenes.
Mon. June 25 – Fleet Mercury is gradually moving further away from the evening glow of the setting Sun. Tonight it will be about three finger widths below Pollux, one of the twin stars of Gemini.

Wed. June 27 – Tonight the Full Moon will rise low over the southeastern mountains with bright Saturn in tow. As darkness deepens you will see the pair just above Sagittarius’ ‘Teapot’ asterism. The separation between Saturn and the Moon will be about two lunar widths. Helping Saturn compete with the light of a full Moon is the fact that the ringed planet will be at opposition, or opposite the Sun tonight as seen from Earth, and its rings will be fully illuminated. Looking timidly on will be the brightest (though still quite faint) asteroid Vesta which will be located less than a Moon width’s below our neighbour. (A Vesta finder chart appears on Page 48 of the June issue of Sky & Telescope magazine).

Wed. June 27 – As noted, this is Full Moon night which will be made more special by the fact that this particular one will be the most southerly of 2018. As well as adding drama and beauty to the summer night, our unique planet/moon combination (at least in our solar system) can also add romance, particularly if you are able to observe it reflected in a foreground Okanagan lake in the company of a partner.

Sat. June 30 – Anticipating the rapid brightening of our outer planetary neighbour Mars, the just past full Moon will look down to see how things are coming along as the red planet’s closest approach is now less than a month away. Mars has already become something to admire, rising low in the late southern night sky in the constellation Capricornus.