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-  Proprietor  -
John Vetter
* Amateur Astronomer with
 over 40 years experience.

-  Address  -
961 Old Grattai Road
Mudgee NSW 2850

-  Phone  -
(02) 6373 3431

-  Email  


1st Quarter
Full Moon
3rd Quarter
New Moon



The Planets for June 2016

   This is an excellent month for the early risers to observe the elusive Mercury as for the first half of the month it will be rising two hours earlier than the Sun. It reaches its greatest elongation west of the Sun on the 5th after which it starts its journey back toward the Sun. On the 19th it will be less than a degree from epsilon Tauri, the star marking the northern eye of the bull. This star is an orange giant of magnitude 3.5 which lies at a distance of 147 light years and in 2007 the first star in an open cluster around which a planet was discovered. The brighter eye of the bull is marked by Aldebaran, a 0.9 magnitude red giant at the closer distance of 68 light years that is not a true member of the Hyades cluster but an unrelated foreground star. The waning crescent Moon will rise thirty minutes before Mercury on the third of the month.

Lost in the glare of the Sun this month and in conjunction with the Sun on the 7th of the month. On this date Venus will be occulted by the Sun for 46 hours after which it moves into the evening twilight.

   Still in a great position for observation this month and even a 100mm instrument will at times reveal its south polar cap. Mars will appear stationary at the end of the month after retrograding against the background stars since April spending a few days from the 26th within half a degree of magnitude 8.6 globular cluster NGC 5897. It begins its eastward march early next month taking it once more in the direction of Scorpius. The Moon passes seven degrees to the north of Mars on the 17th of the month.

  The giant planet sits high in the northern sky after the Sun has set early in June. It passes within 20 arcminutes of Magnitude 4.7 chi Leonis on the 9th of May and is visited by the Moon on the 11th and 12th of the month. It will be best viewed early in the month as by the end of the month it will be setting at 10:30pm.

The real star of the show, Saturn is always a breathtaking sight when seen through even the smallest of telescopes. It reaches opposition on the 3rd and so is visible all night long among the stars of Ophiuchus. It is less than seven degrees to the north of Scorpio's brightest star, Antares and the colour contrast between the two should be quite obvious. The Moon is in the vicinity on the 18th and 19th of June.

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The Planets for July 2016

    At superior conjunction with the Sun on the 7th of the month, Mercury will be difficult to spot until very late in the month. On the 17th the inner planet sits just half a degree to the north of the much brighter Venus but the pair will be setting only 45 minutes later than the Sun and very low in the western twilight. Mercury sets progressively later than the Sun each day until by the end of the month it will set ninety minutes later than the Sun. On the 30th and the 31st it will be within one degree of Leo's brightest star, Regulus, a magnitude 1.4 blue-white star 85 light years away. It has a wide companion of magnitude 7.6 which is visible in binoculars or small telescopes.

  On its way to taking its place in the western evening sky as the "Evening Star", Venus moves from Cancer into Leo on the 27th of the month. By the end of July it will be setting an hour later than the Sun and at magnitude -3.9 easy to recognize in the evening twilight.

   High in the north eastern sky after sunset at the beginning of the month, Mars is still in a great position for observation this month. It spends the month in Libra, being on the 1st within half a degree of magnitude 8.6 globular cluster NGC 5897. This is a large but loosely scattered globular which is 45,000 light years away. A moderately sized telescope will show markings on the surface of Mars including the South Polar Cap. A waxing gibbous Moon joins Mars in Libra on the 14th and 15th of the month.

  High in the north-western sky after sunset the giant planet moves eastward against the background stars of the constellation Leo-The Lion this month. Jupiter will be visited by the waxing crescent Moon on the 9th and planet passes within half a degree of Sigma Leonis on the 13th and 14th of the month.

This is an ideal time to be observing the ringed planet as it crosses the meridian around 9:00pm mid July. On the 16th the waxing gibbous Moon joins Saturn in Ophiuchus making a pleasant scene with Mars 16 degrees to the west of Saturn and Antares, Scorpio's brightest star, just 6 degrees to the south of Saturn. Probably worth a photograph.

4th 12th 20th 27th

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