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2017 June

THE SOLAR SYSTEM IN JUNE 2017

Dates and times shown are NZST (UT + 12 hours) unless otherwise stated.

The southern winter solstice occurs on June 21. The sun reaches its most northerly declination at about 4 pm.

SUNRISE, SUNSET and TWILIGHT TIMES in JUNE
Times are for Wellington. They will vary by a few minutes elsewhere in NZ.

June 1 NZST June 30 NZST
SUN: rise: 7.34am, set: 5.02pm rise: 7.45am, set: 5.03pm
Twilights morning evening morning evening
Civil: starts: 7.06am, ends: 5.31pm starts: 7.16am, ends: 5.33pm
Nautical: starts: 6.32am, ends: 6.05pm starts: 6.42am, ends: 6.07pm
Astro: starts: 5.58am, ends: 6.39pm starts: 6.08am, ends: 6.41pm

JUNE PHASES OF THE MOON (times NZST, as shown by GUIDE)

First quarter: June 2 at 12.42 am (June 1, 12:42 UT)
Full moon: June 10 at 1.10 am (June 9, 13:10 UT)
Last quarter June 17 at 11.33 pm (11:33 UT)
New moon: June 24 at 2.31 pm (02:31 UT)

THE PLANETS in JUNE 2017

Jupiter, and later Saturn will be prominent in the evening sky. In the morning Mercury is easily visible for the first few days while Venus is obvious for several hours before sun-up. Mars is getting too close to the sun to see.

MERCURY, in the morning sky, rises over an hour and three-quarters before the Sun on the 1st. At magnitude -0.4 it will be readily visible 30° to the north of east but at a fairly low altitude, near 10° above the horizon 50 minutes before sunrise. It is then in Aries and will be the brightest object in that direction.

The planet will move towards the Sun quite rapidly over the following days, so that by the 10th it will rise just over an hour before the Sun, so be noticeably lower. To compensate, it will brighten steadily, then up to -1.0. Mercury will be in Taurus from June 3.

After this, within a day or two, Mercury will be lost in the morning twilight. It reaches superior conjunction at the far side of the Sun on the 22nd when the planet will be nearly 200 million km, 1.32 AU from the Earth, some 46 million km beyond the Sun.

Following conjunction, Mercury becomes an evening object setting after the Sun, 50 minutes later at the end of June. However it is likely to be too low to see.

VENUS remains an easy morning object during June. It rises about 4 hours before the Sun on the 1st, reducing to 3.5 hours earlier on the 30th. Venus is at its greatest elongation, 46° from the Sun, on the 4th. Also on that morning, Uranus will be 1.5° to the left of Venus.

The planet starts the month in Pisces, follows Mercury at an increasing distance across Gemini and ends the month in Taurus. Aldebaran will then be 16° to the lower right of Venus.

The moon passes Venus on the morning of the 21st when the crescent moon will be some 2.5° above the planet.

MARS, still nominally in the evening sky, will set an hour after the Sun on the 1st so is unlikely to be visible in the evening twilight. By the 30th it will set just over half an hour later than the Sun. Two evenings earlier Mars will be a degree above Mercury, but neither are likely to be visible.

JUPITER will remain a prominent evening object during June, although by the end of the month it sets at 1am, so will then be getting low by late evening. The planet is in Virgo all month with a magnitude -2, making it the brightest star like object in the evening sky.

The planet will show little movement through the stars during June, being stationary on the 10th. Following this it will start moving to the east.

The moon passes Jupiter early in the month. The two will be closest early afternoon on the 4th, closest before they rise for New Zealand. By 6pm the two will be just under 4° apart with the 76% lit moon about 4° below Jupiter. By midnight the two will be nearly 6° apart, rotation of the sky bring the moon to about the 2 o'clock position centred on Jupiter.

SATURN is at opposition on the 15th, so will then rise about the time the Sun sets, and will itself set close to sunrise. Thus the planet will be visible all night although very low to the east early evening. It remains in Ophiuchus moving slowly to the west.

Opposition will provide a good opportunity to view Saturn's ring system. It is now wide open as seen from the Earth, with the outer edge of the ring beyond Saturn appearing over the planet's north pole.

On the 10th the moon, only a few hours after being full, will be 5° below Saturn early evening. As with Jupiter 6 days earlier, the two will be closest early afternoon, before they rise.

OUTER PLANETS

URANUS is a morning object rising just before 4 am on the 1st and at 2am on the 30th. The planet is in Pisces. At the beginning of the month it will be close to Venus, with the latter some over 2.7° above the fainter planet as seen on the morning of the 1st. They are closest on the morning of June 4, when Venus will be 2° to the right of Uranus at 6am. There will be one star, magnitude 4.3, closer to Venus than is Uranus at magnitude 5.9. The three are almost in line the following morning, with the star between the two planets. Uranus should be an easy binocular object.

NEPTUNE rises a few minutes after midnight on the 1st and about 10.20 on the 30th. The planet, magnitude 7.9, spends the month in Aquarius. It is stationary on the 17th NZ time. A few hours earlier the moon will be close to Neptune. As seen from Dunedin, the moon will rise almost touching Neptune near the northern cusp of the moon. An occultation of Neptune is visible a few tens of kilometres off shore from Port Chalmers and to the east over much of the southern Pacific.

PLUTO, magnitude 14.4, rises just after 7.30 pm on the 1st and at 5.40 pm on the 30th. The planet will remain in Sagittarius and will be 2° from the magnitude 2.9 star, pi Sgr, by the end of the month.

MINOR PLANETS

(1) CERES, in Taurus, remains too close to the Sun to observe in June. It is at conjunction with the Sun on the 6th. At conjunction it is 2.71 AU beyond the Sun and 3.72 AU, 557 million km, from the Earth.

(4) VESTA is in Cancer early June but moves into Leo on the 18th. Its magnitude will be 8.2. The asteroid sets at 9.20 pm on the 1st, nearly an hour earlier on the 30th.

(6) HEBE, magnitude 9.4, starts the month in Serpens some 25 arc-minutes from the star zeta Ser, magnitude 4.6. It moves away from the star crossing into Ophiuchus on the 4th. It rises at 7.23 pm on the 1st, just before 5pm on the 30th. It is at opposition mid month.

(10) HYGIEA brightens from magnitude 9.9 on the 1st to 9.2 on the 30th . It is at opposition on the 30th. On the 27th and 28th the asteroid will pass through the northerly outskirts of the bright globular cluster M22 in Sagittarius, at its closest Hygiea will be about 8 arc-minutes from the cluster's centre.

Brian Loader