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  Night Sky

June Night Sky

June 15 night sky at 9:30 p.m., but applies well to most June evenings.

June 2009 Sky Tour

—Charlie Christman

June is the beginning of the summer sky festival when nights are warm and comfortable, even late into the night. So let’s take a look at the bright stars you can see this June.

Look east at about 9:30 p.m. for the bright star Altair thirty degrees above the horizon. This is the brightest star in Aquila, the Eagle. Aquila is flying north chasing Cygnus, the Swan, whose bright star is Deneb. Look in the northeast also about thirty degrees above the horizon to find Deneb. Between the two flying birds, you will find Vulpecula, the Fox, and Sagitta, the arrow. Both of these are small constellations with dim stars. The other bright star in the east-northeast about forty-five degrees above the horizon is Vega, in Lyra, the harp.

In the east-southeast, also forty-five degrees above the horizon is the star Rasalhague in Ophiuchus, the Snake-holder. Low on the southeastern horizon are Nunki and Kaus Australis, both in Sagittarius. Moving to the south-southeast, you can easily find the red star Antares in Scorpius, the Scorpion. Shaula and Sargas are also low on the horizon in the tail of the Scorpion.

Half way up the sky in the southwest is bright Spica in Virgo, the Virgin. High above Spica is the star Arcturus in Bootes, the Herdsman. Looking to the west not too far above the horizon is Regulus in Leo, the Lion. Then in the northwest, right on the horizon are Castor and Pollux, of the Gemini twins. Pollux is the brighter twin.

So, go outside on a warm evening and try and locate these stars and constellations as you tour the night sky.

The Planets and Moon

Mercury is up in the east about an hour before sunrise. The Moon-Mercury conjunction happens on the 21st.

Venus is also high and bright in the east before sunrise. The Moon joins Venus and Mars on the morning of the 19th.

When you find Venus, look for red Mars just north for a great planet duo in the eastern sky about an hour before sunrise. Venus and Mars reach their closest approach on the 21st.

And, since you are up before dawn, find Jupiter half way up in the sky in the south an hour before sunrise. There is a Moon-Jupiter conjunction on the 13th. With binoculars, try looking between Jupiter and the Moon for Neptune.

For those who are not up before the sun, look for Saturn low in the west-southwest at 9:30 p.m. The Moon and Saturn are close together on the evening of the 27th.

The Moon is full at 12:12 p.m. on the 7th and new at 1:35 p.m. on the 22nd.

Summer Solstice occurs at 11:45 p.m. on the 20th to start the summer season.

Stargazing in the Manzano Mountains

The Albuquerque Astronomical Society (TAAS) and the Sandia Ranger District will co-host an evening of free public stargazing in the Manzano Mountains on Saturday, June 27 at Oak Flat. Other 2009 event dates in this popular Saturday evening stargazing series are July 25, August 15, and September 12.

The dark skies of the East Mountains and the large telescopes of TAAS astronomers together provide great views of planets, as well as deep sky objects such as galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters. Observing begins at sunset, weather permitting, and is suitable for all ages. Picnic facilities are available for those who would like to come early, and adjacent parking is available. Alcoholic beverages and pets are not allowed in the telescope viewing area.

To get there, take NM Highway 337 nine miles south of the Tijeras exit on I-40, and follow the signs to Oak Flat and Juniper Loop. For information, visit or call (505) 254-TAAS.

For more information, log on to or call 220-5492.






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