The Planets for June 2013
Both these planets are located in the western evening sky just after sunset and at the beginning of the month are less than 4 degrees apart. Venus is by far the brighter of the two, shining at Magnitude -3.9 while Mercury, a little to its north west is magnitude
-0.31. The pair remains a similar distance apart until the 13th when Mercury is at its greatest eastern elongation from the Sun and starts to journey back toward the Sun moving closer to Venus as it does so. Venus and Mercury are in conjunction on the 23rd after which Mercury continues its journey sunward until by the end of the month sets just one hour later than the Sun. Venus by this time will set almost two hours later than the Sun. Coincidentally on the 23rd of the month the magnitude 8.3 asteroid Vesta is in conjunction with Venus and only 15 arcminutes separate the pair.
The southern hemisphere’s winter solstice occurs on the 21st when our daylight hours are at their shortest.
The red planet returns to the early morning sky this month but may be a bit hard to spot until the end of the month when it will be rising over one hour before the Sun.
Also returning to the morning sky this month but will be hard to spot in the glare of the early morning twilight.
Still in a great position for observation this month, Saturn crosses the meridian around 9:00pm and spends the month retrograding in Virgo. The waxing gibbous Moon pays Saturn a visit on the 19th of the month situated 4º to the south of the planet.
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The Planets for July 2013
Low in the western evening sky after sunset at the beginning of July, Mercury moves back toward the Sun until inferior conjunction on the 10th of the month. It then reenters the morning sky, reaching its greatest angular distance from the Sun on the 30th, where it joins Mars and Jupiter among the stars of Gemini.
Very prominent in the western evening sky after the Sun has set, Venus is setting almost two hours after the Sun at the beginning of July. By the end of the month however it will exit the evening sky
2 hours and 30 mins later than the Sun. It begins the month in Cancer, passing through the outer reaches of the Beehive cluster on the 3rd and 4th and entering Leo on the 13th of the month. The waxing crescent Moon makes a fine sight as it lies just south of Venus on the 10th and 11th of July.
The red planet rises seventy five minutes before the Sun as July begins and by the end of the month will enter the north eastern morning sky just over ninety minutes before the Sun. On the 22nd it passes within one degree of the much brighter Jupiter and at month’s end Mercury will be in close attendance to this pair. On the 6th the waning crescent Moon will be just to the west of Mars.
Reenters the morning sky this month but hard to spot at the beginning of the month as it rises only thirty minutes before the Sun on this date. By the middle of the month it will be much easier to observe however as it will then be rising over
one and a half hours before the Sun and by the end of the month almost two hours before the Sun. The waning gibbous Moon joins Jupiter on the 7th and Jupiter will be in close conjunction with the planet Mars on the 22nd.
Set among the stars of Virgo, Saturn is in a great position for observation early in the evening. It crosses the meridian around 7:30pm at the beginning of the month but almost two hours earlier by month’s end. The first quarter Moon passes between Virgo’s brightest star Spica and Saturn on the 16th.
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