This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, June 20th, and Thursday, June 21st, written by Louis Suarato.
The First Quarter Moon occurs at 6:51 a..m. Wednesday. The Moon rises at 1:02 p.m., and will remain visible until setting at 1:38 a.m., Thursday. Look for Mercury low in the northwest before it sets at 9:40 p.m. with the constellation Gemini. Venus shines at magnitude -4.02 to Mercury’s upper left in Cancer. Venus and M44, the Beehive Cluster, are 1 degree apart. Find Jupiter by starting at the Moon and heading south toward Virgo’s brightest star, Spica, and another 20 degrees further to Jupiter. At 10:57 p.m., the shadow of Jupiter’s moon, Europa, joins its source crossing the face of the planet. Europa’s transit ends at 11:21 p.m., and at 1:14 a.m., its shadow transit ends. Saturn rises in Sagittarius at 8:56 p.m., followed by Mars, in Capricornus, two and a half hours later. If Mars appears less of a red planet these days, it’s because a massive dust storm is covering a quarter of the planet. The storm is so severe it has covered NASA’s rover Opportunity solar panels with dust, eliminating its power source.
The Summer solstice occurs Thursday at 6:07 a.m. in North America. The time of the summer solstice, or beginning ofastronomical summer, is marked by the Earth’s northern hemisphere tilting at its maximum 23.44 degrees toward the Sun. This northern tilt also causes the Sun to reach its northernmost azimuth, before appearing to “stand still” and then begins its trek toward more eastern, then southern sunrises. The word solstice is derived from the Latin word for Sun, “sol”, and middle English “stit”, meaning standing. The summer solstice is also the time for the longest day of the year, providing our region with 16 hours and 29 minutes of daylight. It is also when the Sun reaches its highest altitude of 70 degrees, 47 minutes, at 12:55 p.m..
The Albany Area Amateur Astronomers invite you to join them for their monthly meeting to be held Thursday beginning at 7:30 p.m. at miSci in Schenectady. Club member Dave Scott will provide an update on his Analemma project, discussing how the analemma data can be analyzed.