GARRETT COUNTY SKIES
By Dr. Bob Doyle, Frostburg State Planetarium

Garrett County Skies for June 2018

June is Sunniest Month with earliest sunrise, highest sun and latest sunset

June opens with an Oakland sunrise at 5:53 a.m. and sunset at 8:38 p.m. The year’s earliest sunrises are at 5:50 a.m. that prevail from June 9 to 19. The most daylight occurs on June 21, the first day of summer, when the sun crests highest in the South at 1:20 p.m. at an angle of 73 degrees altitude. This day, the days before and after will have 14.95 hours of sunlight. The latest sunset will be at 8:49 p.m., which will hold for June 25 – July 1. June ends with sunrise at 5:54 a.m. and sunset at 8:49 p.m. This large serving of sunlight is due to the Earth’s axis being most tipped towards the sun on June 21.

Venus is the beautiful evening ‘star’ shining in the West for several hours after sunset. After it gets dark, the bright planet Jupiter appears low in the Southeast. Venus is brighter than Jupiter due to its closeness to both the Earth and the sun. Both Venus and Jupiter are swathed in highly reflective clouds. During the night, the Earth’s rotation will cause Jupiter to roll towards the West, dropping out of view in the early morning hours. During June, the planet Saturn slowly creeps into the evening sky. On June 26, Saturn will be closest to the Earth for the year at a distance of 840 million miles or 75 light minutes. (So when you spot Saturn low in the Southeast at 10 p.m. in late June, you will be seeing Saturn as it was 75 minutes earlier.) Unfortunately Saturn will be too low then so you are advised to wait till 1 a.m. when it will be higher in the South to see Saturn’s rings with a telescope. The orange planet Mars closes in on the Earth during June. In late June, it will rising in the Southeast in the last hour of the evening and will be about as bright as Jupiter but with an orange tint. Mars will be closest to the Earth on July 30, when it will be 36.4 million miles away (only 3.3 light minutes). In late June, the small planet Mercury will appear below and to the right of Venus.

In early June, there will be some moonlight in the late evening.  Early in the morning of June 3, the planet Mars will appear underneath the moon. On June 6, the moon will appear half full (like a reversed ‘D’) in the southern dawn.  On June 13, the moon’s motion will carry the moon from the morning to the evening side of the sun (New Moon). At dusk on June 16, a slender crescent moon will appear to the left of the brilliant planet Venus. On June 20, the evening moon will appear half full (like a ‘D’) in the southwestern sky. On June 23, the moon will appear close to the bright planet Jupiter. On the evening of June 28, the moon will be full, rising about sunset and staying visible all through the night. This full moon will have the lowest sky path, never getting higher than one third up in the South. Next to the moon on that evening will be the planet Saturn.

On June 30, the moon will appear near the planet Mars in the last hour of the evening.

On June evenings, the star group Cassiopeia (5 stars) appears as a stretched out ‘W’ low in the North.  The Big Dipper (7 stars) is slowly descending in the North Northwest with its bowl lower and its handle stars upward. The handle stars if extended in a curve arc outward will take you to Arcturus (ark-TOUR-ess), a bright golden star high in the West. The southern evening sky features the bright planet Jupiter and the star group of the Scorpion, resembling a starry ‘J’. Near the top of the ‘J’ is the bright pinkish star Antares (an-TEAR-ess).  To the right of the Scorpion is the ‘Tea Pot’ of Sagittarius. Just above the top of the tea pot is the planet Saturn. In the eastern evening sky is the Summer Triangle, a trio of bright stars.  The peak star in the Triangle is the bright white blue star Vega (vee-GAH).

A very good June evening star chart is available at www.skymap.com/planetarium/html .