Greetings everyone! Although we can no longer see all the wonders of the Magic Half Hour, that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty to love in your personal sky and I’ll tell you all about it this month.
We’ll lose more things besides bright stars and famous constellations in June and one of them is morning daylight. Sunrise has been stuck at 5:53 am, the earliest sunrise time of the year since the 25th of May but yesterday the sun rose at 5:54 am We’ll lose four minutes of early morning daylight in June. But we’ll gain seven minutes of evening daylight.
Of course, a lot of that has to do with the fact that the first day of summer is this month and everybody knows that the first day of summer is the longest day of the year, right? Well, as you’ve probably guessed, that’s not exactly true in the tropics and I’ll tell you all about it in a couple of weeks.
This month, there are wonderful things going on in your early morning sky. Although you’ll have to get up early, (like around 5 am) it will be worth it because you’ll be able to see all five visible planets. Mercury will enter the early morning sky this week and will be very close to the eastern horizon.
Venus will be hard to miss two fist-widths above due east and a fist-width to the left. Mars will be two fist-widths above Venus and two fist-widths to the right. Jupiter will be right above Mars.
Saturn may be easier to spot if you swing 90 degrees to your right, face due south and measure six fist-widths straight up. Saturn is the slowest visible planet and the other four have left it far behind in our endless orbits of the sun. You may not normally be an early riser, but it will be worth it this month.
But there are still beautiful things to see in your early evening sky. Although we’ve lost three of the eight bright stars you can see in April and May, you can still see six of them in our early evening sky. Wait a minute you say; what has happened to your math skills? If you can’t see three of the eight bright stars anymore that means that there are only five left in the early evening sky.
Well, it is true that we can no longer see Canopus, the second brightest star, or Capella, number 6, or Rigel, number 7 because they’ve disappeared below the western horizon, but if you face due east and measure four fist- widths to the left, you’ll find a bright star less than 10 degrees above the horizon. That’s Vega, the fifth brightest star. You can arc off the Big Dipper’s handle to find Arcturus the fourth brightest star, which will be above Vega and Procyon, the eighth brightest star, is a little over two fist-widths above due this week.
Sirius, the brightest star, is still in the southwestern sky and that makes four of the 10 brightest stars. To find the other two members of the brightest star club, just face south and find a very famous constellation. Since two of its stars are members of the twenty brightest stars club it’s easy to find. And the shape is familiar too. It’s Crux the Southern Cross.
Those two bright eyes to the left of the Cross are Alpha and Beta Centauri and they are number three and number ten on the bright stars hit parade. Alpha Centauri is on the left and Beta is on the right. Guam’s skies are magnificent. Enjoy them this week!
Pam Eastlick has been the coordinator for the former University of Guam planetarium since the early 1990s. She has been writing this weekly astronomy column since 2003. Send any questions or comments to [email protected] and we will forward them to her.