This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, June 13th, and Thursday, June 14th, written by Louis Suarato.
The New Moon occurs at 3:43 p.m. Wednesday, leaving the night sky darker for your observing. Venus sets at 11:06 p.m. and is bright enough to see at twilight as it heads toward the west-northwestern horizon after sunset. Look about 8 degrees to the upper left of Venus for M44, also known as the Beehive Cluster. This open star cluster, consisting of about 1,000 stars,resides in the dim constellation Cancer. At the distance of 520 to 610 light-years, the Beehive Cluster is one of the nearest open clusters to our solar system. With a width of three Full Moons, this group of stars can be seen with binoculars or a small telescope.
As Venus is setting, Jupiter is high over the southern horizon in Libra, and Saturn rises in Sagittarius. Mars rises at 11:40 p.m. in Capricornus. The shadow of Jupiter’s moon Europa crosses the planet until 10:37 Wednesday night. Saturn is approaching its opposition at the end of this month, when it can be viewed all night at its brightest. Saturn’s rings are tilted at 25.5 degrees toward Earth, offering fine views of the Cassini Division and Encke Gap within its rings. Mars continues to brighten as we move closer to the Red Planet. Thursday, Earth and Mars will be separated by approximately 49 million miles, By month end, we will have moved about 7 million miles closer to our neighboring planet. Lunar perigee, when the Moon and Earth are closest during this cycle, occurs at 7:53 p.m. Thursday, 28 hours after the New Moon phase. Earth and Moon will be separated by 223,385 miles. Expect higher, and lower, than normal tides during this time. Thursday, after sunset, it will be a challenge to see the 2% illuminated, waxing crescent Moon, 16 degrees elongated from the Sun. Look low above the west-northwestern horizon before 9 p.m..