Skywatch: Find four planets in the evening sky Sunday night | Metro & Region


Sunday: Heading outside this evening, you can spot four of the visible planets stretched across the sky. In the western sky, the inner planets Mercury and Venus are visible. Venus is easy because of its brightness, but Mercury can be located without too much trouble a few degrees above the horizon. Looking southward, Jupiter is by far the brightest object in this region of the sky. The last planet is Saturn low in the southeast, shinning with a slight yellow hue.

Monday: Early this evening, Mercury is near the bright star Pollux. At 9:30 p.m., the planet is 5 degrees to the lower right of Pollux. Mercury and Pollux, as well as Castor, appear similar in brightness, but Mercury is the brightest of the trio tonight.

Tuesday: Saturn reaches opposition with the sun tomorrow. At opposition an object rises just as the sun sets. Usually at opposition, or very near it, planets are at their brightest and appear largest. Through a telescope, Saturn’s largest moon Titan is easily seen to the north of the planet.

Wednesday: The full moon occurs late tonight at 11:53 p.m. The June full moon is known as the Strawberry Moon. The relatively short picking season for strawberries occurs each year in the month of June, giving rise to the name.

Thursday: An Iridium flare occurs tonight in the east-northeast. The flare occurs near the center of the constellation Cygnus at 10:35 p.m., 40 degrees above the horizon. The satellite will be one of the brighter objects in this region of the sky. On Saturday, another flare — but 100 times brighter — occurs in almost this same location at 10:29 p.m.

Friday: Tonight the double star Albireo is 30 degrees above the eastern horizon at 9:45 p.m. Cygnus appears to fly through the sky with the body parallel to the eastern horizon and two stars marking its outstretched wings. The brightest star in the constellation is Deneb, at the swan’s tail. The second brightest star is Albireo, at the swan’s beak. Though it is possible to split this double star with binoculars, a telescope will provide a much higher chance of success. Viewed with either, the brighter star appears golden to orange and the other star appears blue.

Saturday: Tomorrow morning the gibbous moon is near the planet Mars in the south-southwest. Mars is to the lower right of the Moon. You have to get up early, since the sun rises much earlier during the summer months.



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