Astronomy Notes for June 2011

Here’s some very cool information for learning and stargazing this month from our local expert, Jean.

Plus links to Universe in the Park and Starsplitters and Iowa County Astronomers clubs outings.

From the new moon to the solstice, keep looking up…

June 2011

June 1   New Moon

At new moon, the moon and sun rise and set together; the moon is hidden in the glare of the sun. After new moon it will be a growing crescent; when half of it is visible, it is called 1st quarter. Then the moon will grow gibbous (larger than ½) and around the end of the second week it will be nearly full. The 3rd week it begins to shrink, and when it is half-full again it is called last quarter. It takes 29.5 days for the moon to cycle.

Click here for more information about moon.

During new and full moon, the earth, moon, and sun are all in the same straight line, but, that during the first and last quarters, they are at right angles. The portions of the earth and moon turned toward the sun are illumined, the shaded portions are in the darkness. To an observer on the earth, the moon, at a, appears new, since the dark part is turned toward the person; at b, however, it must appear full, since the illumined portions are toward the person. At c, and d, the positions of the quarters, only one-half of the illumined half, or one quarter, is seen. Source: Edwin J. Houston, The Elements of Physical Geography, for the use of Schools, Academies, and Colleges. (Philadelphia: Eldredge & Brother, 1891)77
There will be a partial solar eclipse on June 1st, but it will not be visible to us here in the United States.

Click here for more information about the solar eclipse.
Annular eclipse of the Sun. S=Sun, E=Earth, M=Moon Source: Editor in Chief Charles Morris Winston�s Cumulative Loose-Leaf EncyclopediaWinston's Cumulative Loose-Leaf Encyclopedia (Philadelphia: The John C. Winston Company, 1918)

June 3 Iowa County Astronomers club meeting at 7:30. You are welcome to join us! We will meet at Quality Liquid Feeds (north of Dodgeville, WI on hwy 23), and if the weather is nice, we will end the evening at Governor Dodge State Park to view the night sky. You do need a state park sticker to get into the park.

June 8 First Quarter Moon.

June 11 Starsplitters of Wyalusing State Park will have a free program at 8:30 at their observatory in the park (donations appreciated).  We will have a program rain or shine, but if the night is clear, we will set up our telescopes and give you a tour of the night sky. State park sticker required.

June 15  Full Moon: total lunar eclipse—but not visible in the U.S.

Click here for more information about the lunar eclipse.
Eclipse of the Moon. S=Sun, E=Earth, M=Moon Source: Editor in Chief Charles Morris Winston's Cumulative Loose-Leaf Encyclopedia (Philadelphia: The John C. Winston Company, 1918)

UPDATED: The lunar eclipse was visible in many places all across the world. This astronomical phenomenon takes place when earth moves between the sun and the moon, casting its enormous shadow on the lunar surface.  The event was captured in impressive photos.   Photos of the Lunar Eclipse

In case you have missed it this time, stay tuned for the next lunar eclipse that will take place in 2015.

June 18  Solstice party at Frank’s Hill  (west of Muscoda). Frank Shadewald will be inviting everyone to join him as he tells the stories of the effigy mounds located on his land—including how the mounds line up to show the arrival of solstice. Usually Frank has a few people come with telescopes to view the evening sky.  Universe in the Park  – There will be an outreach program by the department of Astronomy UW-Madison at Governor Dodge State Park. Click here for more information about UitP. You can also call the park at (608) 935-2315.June 21 Summer SolsticeThe sun rises and sets a little further north on the horizon each day until June 21st.  For a few days it will appear to rise in the same place—(solsticemeans the sun stands still in Latin).  Then it will begin to rise a little further south each day until we come to winter solstice in December. I suggest you draw your horizon in the east and in the west on a sheet of paper, showing the the trees or buildings that lie on the skyline.  Then, throughout the year, when you see the sun rise or set, mark the place and the date on your paper. You might be surprised how quickly it moves along the horizon!June 23 Last Quarter Moon


Jupiter, Mars, and Venus are lined up at the horizon in the early morning at dawn—you have to be up by 4:30 A.M. to see the display. It is worth going out to see these planets in the early morning if you can!

Here is a map and more info on the morning planets.


You can download and print a sky map of the June night sky here:  Skymaps Click on “Download the latest issue” and then “June 2011 PDF downloads: English.”
Using a red light to protect your night vision, stand holding the map so that the S (south) is pointing towards the ground. The bottom half of the map is what you will see while looking towards the south. The bright star Antares should be visible; it is the heart of the scorpion in the constellation Scorpius. You should be able to see three stars above Antares that symbolize the scorpion’s pinchers. Below Antares is the scorpion’s tail—a string of stars that loops down, often below the horizon.

Turn the map so that the E (east) is pointing towards the ground and turn to face east. Now the lower portion of the map shows the summer triangle made up of 3 very bright stars, each being the brightest star in a separate constellation. The one highest in the sky is Vega in the constellation the Lyre. The star to the bottom left is Deneb in the constellation Cygnus, the swan. Can you see the swan flying through the night sky? Below Vega and to the right is Altair in the constellation Aquilla, the eagle.

Now turn the map so that the W (west) is pointing towards the ground and turn to face west. Near the bottom of the map is the large star Regulus, which is the brightest star in the constellation Leo the lion. Above Regulus is a backwards question mark made of stars—that is Leo’s head. To the left of Regulus is a small triangle of stars that are the back haunches of the sitting lion. Can you find Leo?


Why not take some time this summer to study the moon with a pair of binoculars?

Touring the Moon with Binoculars

The moon rises on an average of 50 minutes later each day. Can you tell me what time of day the moon rises when it is full?  1st quarter? Last quarter? Have you ever see the moon during the day?

Telescopic view of the moon, 1901. Source: The World's Book of Knowledge and Universal Educator (Boston: J.R. Spaulding & Co., 1901)491


Happy stargazing!

Astronomy Notes

Clipart from


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