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The sky of June

Dear friends of astronomy, while summer season is right about to begin so does the night sky changes its showing face. June is giving us a short excitement since a partial solar eclipse will be observable from Cyprus. We are ready to take a tour to the summer constellations and find our new celestial targets.

Constellations and bright stars

Extending the virtual curve formed by the “handle” of the pan

Arcturus of Boötes and Spica in Virgo

Boötes and Virgo may be difficult constellations to visualize, however we can easily get to them by locating their bright stars. Arcturus is the brightest star in Boötes, and an easy way to find it is to use the Big Dipper (the pan). Extending the virtual curve formed by the “handle” of the pan (Alkaid, Mizar and Alioth), as shown in the figure, we are led to Arcturus. It is no coincidence that the name of the star means “the tail of the bear” in Greek. By continuing this curve, we will find another bright star, Spica.

Fun fact: Arcturus has reddish color while Spica is blue. This difference in color signifies a strong temperature variation. Red stars are colder and often aged stars, while blue stars are younger and much warmer.

Antares in the constellation of Scorpio

We welcome the constellation of Scorpio in the night sky! Perhaps the most characteristic constellation of summer. The constellation has a shape which is well a reminiscent of a scorpion, hence the process of locating it becomes fairly easy. From the midst of the month it will be fully visible in the southwestern sky around 09:30 p.m. A characteristic reddish star in the center of the constellation is Antares.

Fun fact: Antares name comes from the Greek words “Anti” and “Aris” which mean “instead or competitor” and “Mars” respectively. This is due to the fact that many times around the year Mars lies near Antares. Since both celestial objects share similar color and brightness the star appears as the competitor of Mars in the night sky.

The constellation of Scorpio and the planets

The planets

Jupiter From the middle of the month and onwards, Jupiter rises around 22.15 and we can locate it near the constellation of Sagittarius.

Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system and is particularly bright in the sky. As summer progresses the earlier it will rise in the night sky. It won’t be much of a trouble to locate Jupiter in eastern sky as it will outstand the rest of the stars both in size and brightness. Friends with astronomical equipment may enjoy a closer view of the planet. Jupiter is an ideal target for novice telescope users to start their night observations. Observing Jupiter, through a telescope of any size, is impressive as it reveals to four largest satellites and their motions.

Saturn It rises around 22:30 (in the middle of the month) and can be located eastern to Jupiter.

Mars It rises around 01:15 in the morning (in the middle of the month) and we can locate it in the constellation of Aquarius..

Mercury and Venus Non observable as they are both concealed in the twilight.

The moon plays with the sun

Penumbral lunar eclipse On Friday the 6th of July, during the full moon phase we will have the opportunity to observe the phenomenon of the lunar eclipse in the shadow of the Earth, known as Penumbral Lunar Eclipse. In fact, the Moon will be covered by a veil of a “soft” shadow. The phenomenon will start at 20:45 while the Moon enters in the Earth’s shadow. The peak of the phenomenon is expected at 22:24.

Fun fact:Lunar eclipses are observed only on full moon nights, during the three celestial bodies (Sun – Earth – Moon) are aligned..

Partial solar eclipse (26.4% cover of solar disk)

On Sunday (6/21/2020), we will have the opportunity to observe a partial solar eclipse. The phenomenon will start on Sunday morning, at 07:33, with the crossing of the Moon over the solar disk. The peak of the phenomenon is expected at 08:27 a.m. where we shall observe a 26.4% covering of the solar disk. The eclipse will be over at 09:27 with the departure of the moon from the solar disk. (More about the solar eclipse and a scheduled event for observing the phenomenon will be announced in coming days)

Fun fact: Lunar and solar eclipses always occur in pairs. However, the observation of solar eclipses depends strongly to the location of the observer on Earth.

Caution! Do not observe the Sun without using special equipment

The observation of solar eclipse can only be done with the use special glasses. Special protective glasses which meet all the specifications for the safe observation of the phenomenon are available at House of Science. To get your protective glasses on time click here.

SunSafe solar eclipse viewing glasses

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