June 2017  - September 2017.

THE MOON 

New.   24th June.   23rd July.   21st August   20th September

Full.     9th June.     9th July.        7th August      6th September.

THE SUN

The Summer Solstice occurs at 04h 24m on 21st June.

The Autumn Equinox occurs on the 22nd September at 20h 03m.

Solar Cycle 24 continues to decline. With Solar minimum due at a point either in 2018 or 2019

ECLIPSES.

There is a Partial Eclipse of the Moon on the 7th August. We will only  be able to see the last  few moments of this  event as the  Moon rises at 19.29 GMT  by when  the Moon is  starting to emerge from the Earths Penumbral shadow.   

BAA

. The Eclipse of the Decade occurs on the 21st August when a Total Solar Eclipse will track across the entire Continental USA.  From London we will only be able to see a  few minutes on  a partial eclipse . First  contact will be at 18.40 GMT  maximum eclipse of a mere 4% occurs  at 19.10 GMT  only  four minutes before Sunset!!

MERCURY

Not easily visible during the Summer but will make a brief appearance  in the Morning  Sky  between the m 4th and 24th September

VENUS

Venus is in the Moring Sky for the rest of the Year. In June the planet will be low over the  Eastern horizon  in bright  twilight at dawn and not emerging into a dark sky until early July. By late October Venus will again be lost into the dawn twilight.

Mars

 Mars reaches conjunction with the Sun on the 27th July.  It will be  late September before Mars is visible again . At this point it will shine a t a Magnitude of 1.8 and present a  tiny Disc of only 3.7 Sec of Arc. Mars  to all intents will not be a good subject to observe  until  late 2018.

JUPITER

Jupiter is  well placed for observation  now and will remain a prominent  feature  in our  evening sky during  early Summer.  Positioned at a declination varying between minus four and minus seven degrees Jupiter will be almost free from obscuration by  hazes.   By mid July  Jupiter is getting obscured by the  Sunset brightness as it heads towards Solar  conjunction on the 26th October

SATURN

 Saturn will be a challenge to view successfully during 2017.  During this year it will languish at a lowly declination minus 22 degrees taking the same path along the horizon as the Sun does in the first week of December.  Saturn reached opposition to the Sun on the 15th June. Saturn’s larger Moon Titan can be spotted in Binoculars or small Telescopes when conditions are favourable.  On the 15th September the Cassini Mission is scheduled to end with the probe descending into Atmosphere of Saturn and Burning up.

Meteors , Comets & ASTERIODS

 

The main Meteor shower of the Summer is the Perseids which are between the 23rd July and the 20th August . The Maximum of the  shower  occurs over the Nights of the 11th , 12th and 13th August.  The Summer Moon interferes with the observation of the shower. On the  night of the 12th August it  rises at 21.42 GMT just as the last of twilight is ending.

There is one Comets that may still be observed or more possibly imaged  with suitable  equipment .

COMET C2015 V2 Johnson.

 This Comet reaches  closest approach to the Sun on the 12th June  at a Distance of 244.9 million Km (1.64AU) just a little further out  from the Sun as the averaged  distance of the planet Mars.  However  at this time the Comet  will  lie with a line of sight that  takes it into bright evening twilight.

Finder charts can be found on the WEB site Heavens above.com or In-The-Sky.org

Comets are notoriously difficult to observe and unless they are very close and bright the  Classic  features of a shining head  and streaming tail  are not apparent to the naked eye. At best sometimes all that can be seen is a slight smudge against the background sky or a faint  star like point.   Comets can also brighten or fade unexpectedly, so it is well worth checking the above WEB sites for the latest information before starting an observing run.

The track of this Comet takes it rapidly south through the Constellation of Virgo and by the  26th June it will be  too far south to be  seen from the U.K.

The Stars

In early June first of the Summer stars begin to appear in the late evening. Above us just past the Zenith will be the familiar circumpolar stars of the Great Bear (Ursa Major) close by the bright orange star, Arcturus to which the three stars in the tail of the Great Bear point.   Looking a short distance to the left of Arcturus on clear evenings the circlet of stars that comprise the Northern Crown (Corona Borealis) can be glimpsed. Following to the Left ( East ) is the large star grouping of the constellation of Hercules  at its heart lies the  compact group of  stars comprising the Keystone .  Between the western most of the four star of the Keystone is located M13 a Globular Cluster. This Cluster is regarded as the finest Globular Cluster in the northern sky. Binoculars show it as a fuzzy patch of light but in larger telescopes it is spectacular.  Just lifting over the horizon  are the 3 brightest stars of Summer; Vega, Deneb and Altair,    collectively  known as the Summer triangle . These three stars and the constellations in  which  they lie will remain on view  into the  late Autumn. Each Summer  observers of Variable stars  pay particular attention  to this  area of the sky  as running through it is an arm of the Milky way containing  very many faint stars.  Binoculars show how close together these stars are packed .  Very frequently one of these inconspicuous stars erupts as a Nova. The last bright one was in 2013 when on the 14th August  Koichi Itagaki in Yamagata, Japan noted a star of Sixth  magnitude  in the constellation of  Delphinus that had not  been  visible on the  previous  evening. Research subsequently showed that the star had been almost seven magnitudes dimmer previous to its sudden brightening.  The star was then designated Nova Delphinus 2013. It slowly faded of a period of  several weeks.  So the Sky can spring surprises.

June  sees the  return of  Noculucent clouds the first reports of sightings  from the U.K. were received from Northern Ireland on the 31st May. These  high altitude clouds appear  in the  late evening or  early morning  glowing bright Blue just above the  North western or North eastern horizon. These night shining clouds form at an altitude of 80km or 50 miles high up in the atmosphere but are dependent upon  low temperatures of Minus 80 degrees Celsius or below being achieved and  the  presence of water vapour  with cosmic dust upon which to  accrete. With  the Sun spot cycle declining  conditions may be good for these clouds to form  during this Summer. 

Good viewing. 

N Morrison 6/6/2017

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