Starry Night: Early June 2012 — The Arietids Peak

Posted Wednesday, June 6, 2012 in Features

Starry Night: Early June 2012 — The Arietids Peak

by Tristan Radtke

From late May through mid-June, the Arietid meteor shower is in full swing. This year, the shower will peak on Friday, June 8. The Arietids, as it might sound, originate in the constellation Aries, and in terms of sheer numbers, the Arietids are one of the most prolific meteor showers on a yearly basis.

The only problem is that the shower is really only visible just before sunrise. The shower itself usually starts around an hour to 45 minutes before sunrise, making the bulk of the visible part of the Arietids during twilight, so they can be difficult to spot.

However, if you are looking to spot meteors this month, the Arietids are most likely your best bet. The shower is prolific enough to spot as it rises in the early morning, and there are no upcoming showers until the tail end of July. The Arietids tend to strike the atmosphere shallowly, usually streaking long across the sky horizontally, and it also tends to produce a number of fireballs, so keep an eye peeled before sunrise in the early part of June.

The Stars

The summer stars are back, and that means we have a good view of the Milky Way, as it bisects the Summer Triangle in the evening. We are seeing the Milky Way edge on, looking toward the interior of the galaxy from our position on the western spiral arm, also known as the Orion Arm. Except for some deep-space objects, including galaxies, globular clusters and quasars, virtually everything we can see in the night sky is in the Milky Way galaxy.

The Planets

• Mercury: On June 1, Mercury and Venus were lost in the glare of the sun. On June 15, Mercury will be moving quickly away from the sun into the early evening sky, setting at about 9:30 p.m.

• Venus: To begin the month of June, Venus was lost in the glare of the sun. On June 5, in the Western United States and the Pacific Basin nations, the last transit of Venus will be seen for the next 118 years. By mid-month, it will have moved towards the morning sky, rising just before sunrise at around 4:15 a.m.

• Mars: Mars sets at 1 a.m. to begin June, and by June 15, Mars will set around 12:30 a.m.

• Jupiter: Jupiter starts off the month of June moving away from the sunrise, but still not visible. By the middle of the month, it will rise much earlier, around 3:30 a.m.

• Saturn: Saturn sets around 3 a.m. to begin June, and by mid-month it will set around 2 a.m.

• Uranus: Uranus rose around 2:20 a.m. on June 1, and on June 15, it will rise at around 1:20 a.m.

• Neptune: Neptune rose at 1 a.m. on June 1, and by June 15 it will rise at around midnight.

• Pluto: Pluto rose at 10 p.m. on June 1, and on June 15 it will rise at just about 9 p.m., or just after sunset.


The Moon

The Moon  reached its full phase on Monday, June 4. It will wane to third quarter by June 11, and reach new phase on June 19. It will wax into the month of July, passing its first-quarter phase on June 27.

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