J U N E 2 0 0 2 S K Y W A T C H
by Maya del Mar
That brilliant planet in the western sky after sunset is Venus. Early in the month she is next to big Jupiter, also bright. Above them sits another pair, Castor and Pollux, the Gemini Twins. Below them is Mars, very faint now, and caught in the suns glow.
Jupiter will soon disappear in the suns glow, as Saturn already has. Sun, in fact, joins Saturn for the June 10 Eclipse.
And Mercury has disappeared. In its retrograde trip, it switched sidesfrom ahead of the sun to behind it. For Southern Hemisphere observers, it climbs out of the morning twilight, paired with Saturn, towards the end of the month. Waken around 4 a.m. to see them.
Venus, however, stays with us through the summer. With binoculars or a small telescope, you might see the illuminated phase of Venus shrinking throughout the summer. However, Venus will appear larger and larger as it approaches closer to earth.
By June 12, Venus moves in line with Castor and Pollux, and the tiny new crescent moon is near Jupiter. By June 13 the crescent moon has climbed above Venus.
The eclipse to watch is an annular Solar Eclipse on June 10. It begins in the South Pacific and cuts across the Pacific Ocean to the coast of Mexico. Observers near Puerto Vallarta should see a glowing ring around the darkened sun just at sunset. Regions north and south will witness varying degrees of a partial eclipse, where the moon takes a bite out of the sun.
The southwestern United States will experience the greatest partial phases near sunset on June 10, when the moon covers 60% to 80% of the suns disk. Check out http://sunearth.gfsc.nasa.gov/eclipse/eclipse.html for detailed information.