The third annual Asteroid Day is on June 30. The day is intended to raise awareness and education, not fear, about asteroids. Part of Asteroid Day involves the 100x Declaration. Here is some of what it says:
“There are a million asteroids in our solar system that have the potential to strike Earth and destroy a city, yet we have discovered less than 10,000 — just one per cent — of them. We have the technology to change that situation.
Therefore, we, the undersigned, call for the following action:
Employ available technology to detect and track Near-Earth Asteroids that threaten human populations via governments and private and philanthropic organizations.
A rapid hundred-fold acceleration of the discovery and tracking of Near-Earth Asteroids to 100,000 per year within the next 10 years.”
You can find out more at asteroidday.org.
I recommend that you explore this site. There are lots of interesting items including educational material, current asteroid missions, find an event near you, Ask the Experts and of course a countdown to Asteroid Day. You can also sign the 100X Declaration. I have.
Mercury emerges from the sun’s glare at dusk in late June. The innermost world lies low in the west-northwest sky and will be difficult to spot if you have any mountains or hills around. It will be shining slightly brighter that most of the stars around it.
Venus rises in the west shortly after sunset and will reach its greatest height of the year in early June before starting to slowly sink again. As the brightest “star” in the sky it is the easiest object to spot, after the Moon of course. Venus starts the month in the constellation of Gemini before crossing into Cancer on June 11 and into Leo on June 29. A crescent moon will join the planet on June 15 and 16.
On June 16, the Beehive star cluster (M44) will stand between Venus and the moon — a good time to grab the binoculars and take a look. On June 19 Venus will hover near the northern edge of the Beehive cluster, an image that many astroimagers will want to capture. The planet will be just to the northeast of the Beehive on June 20 before moving along. The best time to take a look at Venus though a telescope will be during twilight as the planet’s glare will be almost overwhelming when viewed against a fully dark sky.
Jupiter lies high in the south at dusk, the brightest object in that part of the sky. The giant planet will move slightly westward during June, but will still linger in the constellation of Libra. The best time to observe Jupiter through a telescope will be early evening, when the planet is at its highest and its light passes through the least amount of Earth’s atmosphere. Though it will appear slightly smaller over the month, you should still be able to see a fair amount of detail. The moon will be just to the northeast of Jupiter on June 23.
Right now Saturn rises in the southeast after 10 p.m. The best time to view the ringed world will be around June 27, when it reaches opposition (directly opposite the sun when viewed from Earth). Unfortunately the full moon will be rising closely with Saturn that night, making for a great deal of glare when looking through a telescope. It will be a good time to take a photo of the pair, since it is the closest the two will be all year. Saturn will lie low in the constellation Sagittarius over the month, moving slowly westward. The famous rings will be tilted 26 degrees to our view, allowing you to see a fair amount of detail.
Mars will rise in the southeast around midnight at the beginning of June and by about 10:30 p.m. by month’s end. The red planet will be in the constellation Capricorn, moving slowly eastward until June 28, at which point it will appear stationary for a while. Mars will brighten and increase in size when viewed through a telescope as it nears opposition in late July. It will remain low in the sky for those of us in the north, so the best time to view Mars through a telescope will be just before dawn, when it is at its highest point. June is a good month to practice your telescope and photography skills before July’s opposition, with a bonus of a fair amount of detail visible on the planetary disc.
Neptune rises around 2 a.m. in the southeast in early June and around midnight by month’s end. It lingers in the stars on the eastern half of the constellation of Aquarius just before twilight. If you are in doubt as to whether you have located it just take a look through the telescope to see its blue-gray disc.
Uranus emerges in the East during dawn early in the month, but is very difficult to see in the morning twilight. You will want to wait until late June to try to find this planet as it will be higher in the sky just before the start of sunrise. The ice giant rests in the southwestern corner of the constellation of Aries, nearly on the border with Pisces. This planet will appear as a blue-green disc when viewed through a telescope.
For those of you tracking the dwarf planet Ceres you just have to look above Venus to the constellation of Leo the Lion. First locate Leo’s head (also know as Leo’s Sickle asterism), which looks like a backwards question mark. Ceres lies just to the north of the top of the curved section. This is where Ceres will appear at the beginning of June, but it will not stay there. The dwarf planet will move southeast through the constellation during the month. If you have any doubts as to whether you have spotted this object, the nights of June 3, 15 and 27 should help. During those nights Ceres will be near some prominent stars, which will make the dwarf planet’s motion obvious within an hour.