Casual Astronomy, Spaceflight News and Lower California Weather

Moon Rises with Jupiter ESE before Midnight, They'll be South before Sunrise ••••• Double Spacecraft Flyovers (see comment 473) ••••• Venus & Mars East at Dawn (see comment 398)

By: LowerCal, 5:43 PM GMT on June 05, 2009

Today - SpaceWeather.com
also Earth & Sky | Tonight & 365 Days of Astronomy
This Week - SkyandTelescope.com - This Week's Sky at a Glance
also Jack Horkheimer - Star Gazer, Current Scripts
This Month - SkyandTelescope.com - Sky Tour Podcasts
also HubbleSite - Tonight's Sky: Your guide to constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and events
& International Year of Astronomy Monthly Discovery Guides

Visible Satellites:
Simplest - Satellite Flybys by SpaceweatherPhone.com
More satellites and more info - Heavens-Above.com

Launches - Spaceflight Now - Worldwide Launch Schedule
Reentries - Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies - Upcoming & Recent Reentries

All events described below can be viewed with your naked eye. Occasionally simple binoculars will improve the view and that will be noted. Scroll down for future dates, farther down for past dates.

Moon Near Jupiter
Early Morning July 10-11
These mornings (and the late nights before) the Moon is near the very bright planet Jupiter in the southeast.


Shuttle Endeavour Launch, Mission & Landing

Image credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Mission: STS-127
Spacecraft & Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Endeavour
Launch from Kennedy Space Center, Florida
June 13
1117 GMT
7:17am EDT (local time)
4:17am PDT.
TBD (To Be Determined)
June 17
0940 GMT
5:40am EDT (local time)
2:40am PDT.

NET (No Earlier Than)
July 11
2339 GMT
7:39pm EDT (local time)
4:39pm PDT.

Landing at Kennedy Space Center

Find (when published) landing options at NASA - Launch and Landing
and the landing paths (when published) at NASA - STS-127 Landing Ground Tracks.

Launch status updates at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule.

You can follow the progress of the Space Shuttle mission online at
Spaceflight Now | STS-127 Shuttle Report | Mission Status Center
and NASA - Space Shuttle.

You can dig for more info at
Spaceflight Now - Index of /shuttle/sts127 and
CBS News Space Place - Space Shuttle Status Report.

Live online coverage of the mission will be on NASA TV - see the NASA TV Schedule.


Summaries of Sky Events for the Year
2009
SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - Eclipses in 2009
SkyandTelescope.com - Observing Highlights - Meteor Showers in 2009


***** Past Dates *****

Moon Near Antares

Image created with Stellarium.
June 6
In later evening and after midnight the Moon can be seen near the star Antares, the heart of and the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius. The Scorpion is one of the most recognizable constellations with his long curving tail. Antares is a reddish star close the the pathway of the planets and is sometimes a rival (Ant-) of the red planet Mars (-ares).

.... the entire constellation of Libra was considered to be claws of Scorpius (Chelae Scorpionis) in Ancient Greek times, with a set of scales held aloft by Astraea (represented by adjacent Virgo) being formed from these western-most stars during later Greek times. The division into Libra was formalised during Roman times.

The names of the two brightest stars in Libra are Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali - Arabic for "southern claw" and "northern claw".

.... two stars at the end of the scorpion's tail that appear very close together, are sometimes referred to as the Cat's Eyes.


○ Full Moon

WunderPhoto: Moon Light in May by SunsetSailor Friday May 8, 2009
Exact at
June 7
1812 GMT
2:12pm EDT
11:12am PDT.


Rises near sunset and sets near sunrise. At those times the Moon may seem huge (the Moon illusion) and unusually colored. The yellow/orange/red appearance of the moon at the horizon is at least partly for the same reason the sky appears blue!


Image from: Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy
The gravitational pull of the Moon accounts for about 2/3 of the influence on Earth's tides with the Sun accounting for the remaining 1/3. On this date the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are aligned resulting in stronger tides - higher highs, lower lows and faster flows (see SPRING-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


Moon Near Jupiter
Early Morning June 13
This morning the Moon is near the very bright planet Jupiter in the southeast.


◑ Last (or Third) Quarter Moon

Exact at
June 15
2215 GMT
6:15pm EDT
3:15pm PDT.


Rises near midnight and sets near noon. Morning crescent moons for a week after. Each one thinner and closer to the horizon.


Image from: Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy
The gravitational pull of the Moon accounts for about 2/3 of the influence on Earth's tides with the Sun accounting for the remaining 1/3. On this date the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are at right angles resulting in weaker tides - lower highs, higher lows and slower flows (see NEAP-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


Cape Canaveral Atlas V Launch

Photo credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
Missions: LRO & LCROSS
Launch Vehicle: Atlas V 401
Launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida
? June 17
1951, 2001 or 2011 GMT
3:51, 4:01 or 4:11pm EDT (local time)
12:51, 1:01 or 1:11pm PDT.

June 18
2112, 2122 or 2132 GMT
5:12, 5:22 or 5:32pm EDT (local time)
2:12, 2:22 or 2:32pm PDT.

Launch status updates are at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule
with more details on the launch blog at
Spaceflight Now | Atlas Launch Report | Mission Status Center.
as the launch approaches.

You can find more information on the launch at United Launch Alliance.

Live online coverage of the launch will be on NASA TV - see the NASA TV Schedule.


Venus & Mars and a Thin Crescent Moon

Image created with Stellarium.
Dawn June 19
A thin crescent moon will stand near the brilliant planet Venus low in the east at dawn. The reddish planet Mars will stand between them very close to Venus. Closer to sunrise you'll need binoculars to find Mars.


Mercury and a Thin Crescent Moon

Image created with Stellarium.
Dawn June 21
The planet Mercury stands near a thin crescent moon low in the ENE at dawn. The reddish star Aldeberan will stand a little farther away and the Pleiades star cluster will stand above them all. Binoculars will help in spotting all four objects.


Northern Solstice

Image credit
June 21
Exact at
0545 GMT
1:45am EDT
June 20
10:45pm PDT.
Happy "Sun Stands Still" Day! Today is the longest day of the year for the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest for the Southern Hemisphere.


Dark Moon (a.k.a. astronomical new moon)

Exact at
June 22
1935 GMT
3:35pm EDT
12:35pm PDT.


Lower and thinner morning crescent moons the week before. Higher and thicker evening crescent moons the week after.


Image from: Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy
The gravitational pull of the Moon accounts for about 2/3 of the influence on Earth's tides with the Sun accounting for the remaining 1/3. On this date the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are aligned resulting in stronger tides - higher highs, lower lows and faster flows (see SPRING-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


) Thinnest Evening Crescent Moon (the original meaning of "new moon")

WunderPhoto: One day old Moon by LaddObservatory Friday June 15, 2007
June 23 or 24
Low in the western sky soon after sunset.

June 23 it shouldn't be too difficult to spot the very thin new moon from most of Africa and the Americas.

By June 24 the thin crescent should be fairly easy to find from almost everywhere on Earth.

For areas and dates of visibility see Moonsighting.com.


Moon Near Regulus

Image created with Stellarium.
June 26
This evening the Moon is near the star Regulus, the heart of and the brightest star in the constellation Leo. Regulus is the "dot" on a backward question mark pattern that marks the mane and chest of the Lion.


Cape Canaveral Delta IV Launch

Photo credit: NASA
Mission: Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-O
Launch Vehicle: Delta IV Medium+ (4,2)
Launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida
June 26
June 27
2214-2314 GMT
6:14-7:14pm EDT
3:14-4:14pm PDT.

Launch status updates are at
Spaceflight Now | Tracking Station | Worldwide launch schedule
with more details on the launch blog at
Spaceflight Now | Delta Launch Report | Mission Status Center
as the launch approaches.

You can find more information on the launch at United Launch Alliance.

Live online coverage of the launch may be on NASA TV - see the NASA TV Schedule.


June Boötid Meteor Shower Peak

WU Photo: Searching for Shooting Stars by johnlanoue Monday October 8, 2007
Evening June 27
The June Boötid meteors are a variable shower with rates anywhere from 0-100 per hour visible from ideal locations.

Best areas for watching are north of the Equator and highest numbers would be visible just as soon as the sky becomes dark. The number visible will drop as the night progresses to dawn.

Source and more information at
IMO Meteor Shower Calendar 2009 | International Meteor Organization - June Boötids.

For Better Viewing
Find a Dark Location
A dark country location without "security" lights is best. If that's not convenient try to find a location where you can't see any lights or lighted surfaces. A nearby park or maybe even your backyard would qualify. On a beach facing the water could be a good alternative.

Where to Look
Meteors can appear in any part of the sky. To see the most meteors face the darkest part of your sky and look at least 45° above the horizon.

Be Comfortable
A reclining chair will keep you from getting a stiff neck and tired feet. A sleeping bag will keep you warm. (Even in the summertime you can get chilly at night if you are just lying still.) Insect repellent will keep you from being distracted by those little pests.

General Meteor Shower Information
An easy to read introduction to meteors with an interesting summary of annual showers is
Astronomy - Meteors and meteor showers - Francis Reddy.

The two primary sources of most of what you'll read about meteor showers are
The American Meteor Society and
The International Meteor Organinzation.


Moon Near Saturn

Image created with Stellarium.
June 27
This evening the Moon is near the planet Saturn. Saturn is the farthest planet visible to the naked eye. It has an orbit of about 30 years and so moves very slowly against the background of stars. A year from now it will only be about hand's width farther from its current position near Regulus.

Regulus is the heart of and the brightest star in the constellation Leo. Regulus is the "dot" on a backward question mark pattern that marks the mane and chest of the Lion.


Vandenberg Minuteman III Launch

Image credit: USAF
Mission: Unarmed ballistic missile test
Target: Near the Kwajalein Atoll
Launch Vehicle: Minuteman III
Launch from Vandenberg AFB, California
June 29
3:01-901am PDT (local time).


◐ First Quarter Moon

Exact at
June 29
1128 GMT
7:28am EDT
4:28am PDT.


Rises near noon and sets near midnight. Evening crescent moons for a week before. Each one thicker and higher above the horizon.


Image from: Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy
The gravitational pull of the Moon accounts for about 2/3 of the influence on Earth's tides with the Sun accounting for the remaining 1/3. On this date the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are at right angles resulting in weaker tides - lower highs, higher lows and slower flows (see NEAP-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.


Moon Near Spica

Image created with Stellarium.
June 29


Image created with Stellarium.
June 30

This evening the Moon is near the star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo. Spica is one of the bluest stars in the sky. If it doesn't seem blue to your naked eye try looking through binoculars and unfocusing them to make Spica appear as a disk instead of a point of light.

Spica is the spike of wheat in the Virgin's hand. A kite shaped pattern of four dimmer stars sits just to the southwest of Spica. The four stars define the constellation Corvus the Crow who sits ever watchful for a chance to grab the wheat.


Moon Near Antares

Image created with Stellarium.
July 3
In later evening and after midnight the Moon can be seen near the star Antares, the heart of and the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius. The Scorpion is one of the most recognizable constellations with his long curving tail. Antares is a reddish star close the the pathway of the planets and is sometimes a rival of (Greek anti) the red planet Mars (Greek Ares).

.... the entire constellation of Libra was considered to be claws of Scorpius (Chelae Scorpionis) in Ancient Greek times, with a set of scales held aloft by Astraea (represented by adjacent Virgo) being formed from these western-most stars during later Greek times. The division into Libra was formalised during Roman times.

The names of the two brightest stars in Libra are Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali - Arabic for "southern claw" and "northern claw".

.... two stars at the end of the scorpion's tail that appear very close together, are sometimes referred to as the Cat's Eyes.


Aphelion Day (Greek apo, away from + Greek Helios, Sun)

Approximate at
July 4
0200 GMT
July 3
10PM EDT
7PM PDT.

Along Earth's not quite circular orbit it passes farthest from the Sun this day. Earth is 3.4% farther than it's closest the Sun (perihelion: New Latin peri, near + Greek Helios, Sun) and experiences 6.9% less radiation and gravitation from the Sun (inverse square law).

For the Northern Hemisphere more solar radiation in winter and less in the summer makes the Northern Hemisphere's climate more moderate than it would otherwise be. However except for Antarctica the Southern Hemisphere has more moderate climates than the Northern Hemisphere at corresponding latitudes! Why is this? The Northern Hemisphere has twice as much land as the Southern Hemisphere, 40% land vs. 20% land and land both heats up and cools down faster than water.



○ Full Moon, Penumbral Lunar Eclipse and Lunar Apogee

WunderPhoto: Full Moon by JAYZC Sunday June 7, 2009
July 7
Full Moon exact at
0921 GMT
5:21am EDT
2:21am PDT.


Rises near sunset and sets near sunrise. At those times the Moon may seem huge (the Moon illusion) and unusually colored. The yellow/orange/red appearance of the moon at the horizon is at least partly for the same reason the sky appears blue!

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse maximum at
0938 GMT
5:38am EDT
2:38am PDT.

The Sun, Earth and Moon are so closely aligned this date that the Moon will pass through the edge of the Earth's shadow. The shading of the northern edge of the moon will be very subtle and not easily detectable. The best chance of seeing a change is when the Moon is high in the sky at maximum eclipse. This will occur over the central Pacific Ocean.

USNO Eclipse Map

NASA Eclipse Map


Image from: Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Renewable Energy
The gravitational pull of the Moon accounts for about 2/3 of the influence on Earth's tides with the Sun accounting for the remaining 1/3. On this date the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun are aligned resulting in stronger tides - higher highs, lower lows and faster flows (see SPRING-TIDES). (Due to the huge mass and volume of the ocean's water the tidal effect lags behind the phases of the Moon. The delay can be as long as three days at some times and places.)

Also see The Moon And Tides.

Lunar Apogee (Greek apo, away from + Greek Gaia, Earth) at
2140 GMT
5:40pm EDT
2:40m PDT.

The Moon is at its farthest distance in its non circular orbit around Earth. Due to diminished gravitational influence of both the Moon and Sun (aphelion was July 3) these will be the tamest spring tides of the year.




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Updated: 4:20 PM GMT on July 09, 2009

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