Notable Sky Objects
Saturn is still tilted edge-on to us, making fun telescope viewing. Look for it just below Leo’s tail. Note of interest regarding Saturn observation: Carolyn Porco, Cassini Imaging Team Leader, was the science consultant for the new Star Trek film – so when you see it keep your eyes peeled for the obvious contributions of an intelligent science consultant. If you want to watch for it, her name is 2/3 of the way through the credits, just AFTER the Klingon/Romulan language consultant.
We’ve got both gas giants this month! Jupiter will be rising late around 2am at the beginning of May and slowly creeping earlier till it rises about 10pm at the end of June. It should be shining bright for your viewing enjoyment.
June 6 – Moon will hide Antares, if you’re watching from the United States.
June 20 – Summer Solstice!
SCORPIUS – The Scorpion
SCIENCE: Scorpius is in the same direction as the Milky Way – so if you imagine the shape of the constellation as a teapot, the very middle of our galaxy would be the tea pouring out of that teapot. That’s where the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way is – but you’ll never see it, no matter how hard you look.
Antares (alpha scorpii) red supergiant of variable brightness with a close blue-white companion orbiting every 900 years. Means “Rival of Mars” (anti-Ares) or “Like Mars”
MYTH: To the Chinese it was a dragon; in the South Pacific, it was Maui’s fishhook used to pull up islands from the ocean floor.
The Summer Triangle (mostly):
Cygnus(the Swan) and Lyra (the Lyre/Harp) reappear, and the bright star from Aquila (Altair). The summer triangle (as you can tell by the name) will be directly overhead come summer, but now it’s low in the East, a harbinger of brighter days to come.
CYGNUS – The Swan
SCIENCE: Albireo – Cygnus’ head is the prettiest double star in the sky. Look through a telescope and it separates into a glowing gold star, and a tiny blue point. This is a good thing to suggest for people with telescopes at home.
MYTH: Do you like gory details? When his brother Phaethon was killed by Zeus and scattered all over the Earth, Cygnus picked up all the pieces. The gods laughed, calling him a “bobbing duck,” picking up all those pieces. Then they started to realize that maybe he was doing a good deed, so they put him in the sky as a “noble” bobbing duck – a swan.
LYRA – The Lyre
SCIENCE: M57, the Ring Nebula is between the bottom two stars in the constellation. It’s pretty hard to pick out, even with a small telescope, but it is a good target for larger scopes, and Hubble has a beautiful image of it.
DELPHINUS – The Dolphin
This tiny constellation is as cute as a bug’s ear … or a dolphin’s. Probably one of the easiest constellations to spot – Delphinus is isolated in a dark part of the sky near Aquila.
MYTH: The four stars that make Delphinus’ head are also called “Job’s Coffin.” You don’t often think of Christianity as the underdog, but in our sky it is: the sky is dominated by the Greek names and stories.
Going for the Gold? Here’re this month’s itty-bittys.
LYRA – The Lyre
CORVUS – The Crow
CRATER – The Cup
COMA BERENICES – Berenice’s Hair
LYNX – The Lynx
SEXTANS – The Sextant
HYDRA – The Sea Serpent (Big and dim)
LACERTA – The Lizard
LEO MINOR – The Small Lion (Between the Big Dipper and Leo)
VULPECULA – The Fox
SAGGITA – The Arrow
SCUTUM – The Shield
LIBRA – The Scales
CAMELOPARDALIS– The Giraffe
BOÖTES – The Herdsman
HERCULES – Hercules
CORONA BOREALIS – The Northern Crown
VIRGO – The Virgin (or “Princess”)
LEO – The Lion
CANCER – The Crab
GEMINI – The Twins
CEPHEUS – King Cepheus
DRACO – The Dragon
URSA MAJOR – The Great Bear
URSA MINOR – The Little Bear
CASSIOPEIA – The Queen
Where’d I Get My Info?
My memory, and Zeta Strickland
~ A l i c e !