Skywatch Line for Monday June 28th and Tuesday June 29th, 2021

This is the Dudley Observatory’s Skywatch Line for Monday and Tuesday June 28th, and 29th, written by Joe Slomka.

The Sun sets at 8:38 PM; night falls at 10:54. Sunday was the year’s latest sunset. Dawn begins at 3:04 AM and ends with the Sun rising at 5:20.

The Moon occupies Aquarius on both nights. Monday’s Moon rises at 11:58 PM and appears about 78% illuminated and sets at 10:37 AM, Tuesday. Tuesday’s Moon rises at 12:04 AM, appears 68% lit, and sets at 10:12 AM. Wednesday’s Moon rises a 12:24 AM, appearing 58% lit.

Mars and Venus continue to be early evening planets. Minus fourth magnitude Venus remains to be the first spotted. By 9:15 PM, nearly “full” Venus appears about 10° above the western horizon and sets at 10:09 PM. Nearly second magnitude Mars, about 8° above and to Venus’ left, becomes visible at about the same time and sets at 10:33 PM. Both are very close to the horizon and may need an unobstructed view.

Saturn, in Capricornus, rises at 10:34 PM, shining with zero magnitude and about 18 arc-seconds in size. Jupiter, in Aquarius, rises at 11:27 PM, and by Midnight is 5° high, with the Moon trailing behind; Jupiter blazes with minus 2nd magnitude and is a large 45 arc-seconds in our binoculars and telescopes. Neptune is next, rising in Aquarius at 12:19 AM, glowing with 8th magnitude and appearing a tiny 2 arc-seconds; Neptune appears 17° to the Moon’s left. Uranus, in Aries, brings up the rear rising at 2:14 AM, shining with 5th magnitude and a moderate 3 arc-seconds in size. The grouping of Saturn, Jupiter and Moon presents a triangle 24° wide at 4 AM Tuesday, and an arc at the same time Wednesday. Also note the bright star Formalhaut below the formation on both nights. All these planets set during daytime.

The Big Dipper wheels overhead during the evening. It is an asterism, a formation of stars not recognized as a constellation. The Big Dipper is part of the constellation of Ursa Major, the Great Bear. It is interesting that diverse ancient cultures of the northern hemisphere recognized it as a bear. However, this view is not unanimous. Ancient Teutonic peoples saw it as a wagon or “wain”. Ancient Britons called it a “plough”, since, during late summer, the asterism resembles a farm instrument tilling the soil. Ancient Aztecs saw the Bear as missing a foot, because, at their latitude, the Bear’s feet dipped below the horizon. The Canadian Micmac tribe envisions the Bear as the four stars of the “bowl.” The “handle” stars join with other stars from the constellation Bootes to form seven hunters, one carrying a pot – the star Alcor. Some cultures didn’t see a bear. Egyptian mythology depicts the Big Dipper as the Thigh of the Bull, associated with the god Set.

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