Skywatch Line for Friday, June 24, through Sunday, June 26, 2022

This is Dudley Observatory’s Skywatch Line for Friday, June 24, through Sunday, June 26, written by Sam Salem.

On Friday, Sun rises at 5:18am and sets at 8:38pm; Moon rises at 2:24am and sets at 4:44pm. The latest sunset occurs on Sunday.

This week and next, with Mercury brightening, all five naked-eye planets form their best lineup in the dawn. They’re lined up in order of their distance from the Sun, counting from lower left to upper right. Dim Uranus, and Neptune also lurk along the same line. The Moon walks the length of the line day by day.

Before dawn on Friday, the old crescent Moon will shine a palm’s width to the upper left of the small, magnitude 5.8, speck of Uranus, low in the eastern sky. On Saturday morning, the Moon will hop east to sit 5 degrees to Uranus’ lower left, close enough to share the view in binoculars.

An hour before sunrise on Sunday, the delicate, slim crescent of the old Moon will shine just to the upper left of the very bright planet Venus. Look for the duo shining just above the east-northeastern horizon, flanked below and above by Mercury and the Pleiades star cluster, respectively.

On Monday before sunrise, the silver sliver of the old Moon’s crescent will shine several finger widths to the upper left of the bright dot of Mercury. Find them above the east-northeastern horizon.

This is the time of year when the two brightest stars of summer, Arcturus and Vega, are about equally high overhead soon after dark: Arcturus toward the southwest, Vega toward the east. After dark, look southeast for orange Antares, the brightest star in the constellation of Scorpius. Antares is what Betelgeuse is to the winter nights. Both stars are 1st-magnitude “red” supergiants. Around and upper right of Antares, the other whiter stars of upper Scorpius form their distinctive pattern. The rest of the Scorpion curls down toward the horizon. Right after dark, spot Arcturus way up high toward the southwest. Look three fists below Antares for Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo. A fist and a half to Spica’s lower right, four-star Corvus, the Crow of spring, is heading down and away.

Arcturus and Vega are 37 and 25 light-years away, respectively. They represent the two commonest types of naked-eye star: a yellow-orange K giant and a white A main-sequence star. They’re 150 and 50 times brighter than the Sun, respectively.

Bookmark the permalink.