Garrett County Skies

By Dr. Bob Doyle, Frostburg State Planetarium

   Full Moon on 9th,  Saturn closest and brightest on 15th and  Summer begins on 21st


      June opens with Oaklandís sunrise at 5:53 a.m. and sunset at 8:38 p.m.  In mid June, sunrises are

about 5:50 a.m. with sunsets about 8:46 p.m. The sun then peaks in the South at 1:18 p.m. At the end of June, sunrise is at 5:54 a.m. with sunset at 8:49 p.m.  From June 17 to 25, Oakland has its longest amount of daily sunlight of 14 hrs. and 57 min. each day.


      On June 1st, the evening moon appears half full (like a letter ĎDí).  Along the moonís straight edge, the sun there is rising. So any raised features such as crater rims and mountain ridges will catch the

sunís rays and will be easily seen through a telescope. The grey patches, also seen by eye are huge lava plains formed billions of years ago. These areas were ideal landing sites for the Apollo manned lunar landings in the early 1970ís. On the evening of June 3rd, the moon will appear below the bright planet Jupiter.  On June 9, the moon is full, rising about sunset and hanging in the sky all through the 11 hour night. The planet Saturn will appear to the South or below the moon through this night. Following full, the moon will be rising about 50 minutes later each night. By June 14, the moon will be rising after midnight. On June 17, the moon will appear half full in the southern dawn. 0n June 20, the crescent moon will appear under (South of) the brilliant planet Venus in the southeastern dawn. On June 23, the moon will swing from the morning to the evening side of the sun (New Moon). By June 26, the crescent moon will again be visible as a skinny crescent low in the western dusk. On June 30, the moon will again appear half full (also called First Quarter as the moon has traveled one quarter of its orbit since lining up with the sun).


     On June 15th, the planet Saturn appears opposite the sun, rising about sunset and staying in view through the night. This line up is called opposition and is the time when any outer planet and the Earth are closest.   The Saturn-Earth distance is then 843.5 million miles. Light travelling at 186,300 miles per second takes about 75 minutes to reach us from Saturn. So we view Saturn as it was about an hour and 15 minutes ago. To see Saturnís rings through a telescope, wait till late in the evening, when Saturn is higher above the southern horizon. You will need at least 40 X magnification to see Saturnís rings clearly. The Ďstarí near Saturn is likely Saturnís big moon, Titan, the only moon that has a significant atmosphere.  Every year, Saturn comes to opposition 13 days later, so in 2018 Saturn will be closest to the Earth in late June.


        Summer officially begins on June 21. This is the date when the sunís direct rays reach farthest North to latitude 23.5 degrees North (about the latitude of Havana, Cuba). On this day, the sun rises farthest North (from East) , reaches its greatest height in mid day (1:18 p.m.) at 73 degrees in the South and then sets farthest North (from West).  In the following 6 months, the amount of sunlight each day will diminish, very slowly at first. The change in daylight is most rapid at the start of fall on September 22.


      The Frostburg State Planetarium will have a free public program on Saturday, June 3 at 8 p.m.

The Planetarium is in room 186 of the Gira Center at Frostburg State University.