See Venus And Mars Tangle In Twilight: The Night Sky This Week

Each Monday I pick out the northern hemisphere’s celestial highlights (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but be sure to check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses and more.

The Night Sky This Week: June 5-11, 2023

As we move into June in the northern hemisphere true darkness is in short supply in northern latitudes. With a waning gibbous moon this week it’s about as dark as it gets, though you’ll have to stay up late to see stars. Luckily there’s a lovely display of planets, with Venus and Mars shining in the west in the twilight after sunset. At the same time, Saturn, Jupiter and Mercury are visible in the twilight before sunrise for anyone still awake.

Monday, June 5: Venus And Mars

All this week Venus will blaze brightly in the west beginning in twilight and setting a few hours later. Look to its top-left and you’ll see Mars. Watch them each night this week and you’ll see them edge closer together.

Friday, June 9: Saturn And The Moon

An early riser can this morning see in the southeastern sky a 66º-lit waning gibbous moon about 3º from the ringed planet Saturn, which will be to our satellite’s upper-left.

Saturday, June 10: Last Quarter Moon

Few ever see the Last Quarter Moon, largely because it rises after midnight. However, it’s always worth doing so to get a different perspective on the shadows being thrown across the terminator—the division between the shadow across the lunar surface. Perhaps tonight, more than ever, because just above the Moon as it rises in the east-southeast will be the sixth planet Saturn, which is for the moment a morning object. The ringed planet won’t be positioned for observation in the evening until fall.

Sunday, June 11: Mercury And The Pleiades

If you’re up before sunrise this morning look to the eastern sky to see the “Swift Planet” Mercury about 6º from the sparkling open cluster of stars called the Pleiades or the “Seven Sisters.” Since Mercury is close to the sun the action happens just before sunrise, so be careful if you’re using binoculars—you must not point them at the sun!

Object Of The Week: Coma Berenices And Melotte 111

If you can get to a reasonably dark site with some binoculars this week then have a go at finding one of the most simple constellations of all, Coma Berenices. It’s made up of only three stars but is worth seeing between Leo and Boötes—because of this nearby open cluster of stars. Around 288 light-years from the solar system, Melotte 111 (also known as the Coma star cluster) has around 20 stars in binoculars.

Times and dates given apply to mid-northern latitudes. For the most accurate location-specific information consult online planetariums like Stellarium and The Sky Live. Check planet-rise/planet-set, sunrise/sunset and moonrise/moonset times for where you are.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

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