Southern Colorado Skies / June 17-23, 2018

Consider a planetarium program to help you plan your observations. There are many commercial products available; an excellent program (STELLARIUM) is available free at http://www.stellarium.org/.

THIS WEEK

The gibbous Moon makes a passage near Jupiter later this week.

Feeling ambitious? Vesta (the brightest asteroid) is now unusually close and bright, a little north of Saturn. Right now it’s at magnitude 5.3, the brightest it will be during this apparition (but requiring binoculars for the Pueblo/Pueblo West area), because it will be at opposition on June 19th. As a bonus, Vesta is near the open star cluster M23. Sky & Telescope magazine has a free article and finder chart at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/vesta-2018-opposition/.

Thursday (June 21)

Summer solstice at 4:07 a.m. MDT. The Sun is at its farthest northern point in the sky, and it is the longest day of year (see the “DAYLIGHT” graphic, below).


DAYLIGHT


PLANETS

Mercury (in Gemini)

Just visible in the western evening twilight, far to the lower right (west) of Venus.

Venus (in Cancer)

Look for Venus above the west-northwestern horizon shortly after sunset. That’s Castor and Pollux (the Gemini twins) to its lower right, with Mercury directly below the twins.

Mars (in Capricornus)

Mars rises about 11 p.m., and is in good viewing position in the south just before dawn.

Mars is abnormally bright now, but it will be getting brighter over the next month as it gets to opposition (on a line extending outward from the Sun through the Earth) in late July. At that time Mars will be brighter than at any time since 2003, and almost twice as bright as Jupiter. See my graphic article in the May Southern Colorado Skies.

Jupiter (in Libra)

Jupiter appears in the south during twilight. The best views through a telescope or binoculars are soon after dark.

Saturn (in Sagittarius)

Look for Saturn just above the Sagittarius “teapot.” The ringed planet will rise near dusk, and will be at its highest elevation in the south between 1 and 2 a.m.

Uranus (in Aries)

Low in the east just before dawn.

Neptune (in Aquarius)

Look in the southeast just before dawn.

BRIGHT IRIDIUM FLARES

The following data are based on my location in Pueblo West, Colorado. If you live well outside this area, you should consider checking this information for your location in order to be assured of accurate times, elevations, etc. If you’re unfamiliar with Iridium flares, check out my short article at http://scaspueblo.com/blog/2017/02/25/iridium-flares/.

Sunday (June 17) 9:05:18 p.m. / Magnitude -6.7 / NNW / Elevation 19 degrees

Wednesday (June 20) 4:08:47 a.m. / Magnitude -4.2 / W / Elevation 55 degrees

Friday (June 22) 11:00:59 p.m. / Magnitude -3.4 / WSW / Elevation 25 degrees

INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS)

These are too numerous to list here! If you’re seriously interested, load the ISS DETECTOR or HEAVENS-ABOVE app on your smart phone or tablet.

Carpe noctem

Dave Furry
Pueblo West, Colorado

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