provided some very fine nights for studying the stars. Overall,
it proved to be a great month for viewing globular
clusters. Globular Clusters are densely-packed groups of
stars that form a sphere. Small clusters may have a thousand
stars, but some of the larger ones may have close to a million
stars. When you look at a cluster through a telescope, it’s like
looking at a very ornate setting of diamonds.
M13 is known as the Great Hercules Cluster. It is composed of
about 300,000 stars and is roughly 27,000 light years away. M13,
which is found in the constellation Hercules, was discovered in the
1700s. At that time, it could be spotted with the unaided eye on
a clear, still night. M13 has a magnitude of +5.8 but the light
pollution in Waves makes it difficult to spot with binoculars. To
really appreciate its beauty, you need a small telescope.
is also located in Hercules. Just like M13, it is about 27,000 light
years away. But it is not as bright or quite as spectacular as M13, so
it doesn’t get as much attention.
M3 is about 34,000 light years away. And similar to M92, it has a
magnitude above +6. That puts both clusters out of sight to the
unaided eye -- even on the clearest of nights on the beach at Ramp
is the bright star visible in the northeast just after sunset. It
is the fifth brightest star in the night sky, but at magnitude 0.3, it
is the second brightest in the northern half of the skies -- just
behind Arcturus. Once you locate it, look a little closer to the
horizon. You will see two fairly bright stars--one to the north
of Vega and one to the south. They are Deneb and Altair,
respectively. The three stars form the “Summer
is the bright object in the western sky. Early in the month,
Venus begins the night just south of the two stars known as the Gemini
Twins--Castor and Pollux. Jupiter starts the month higher in the
night sky, but then Venus appears to chase and catch up to it by the
end of June. In fact, they will be in conjunction on the nights
of June 30 and July 1.
June 1, Saturn is visible near the southeast horizon as soon as the sun
goes down. It will traverse its way across the sky, finally
setting in the west around 5:30 a.m. It will continue to be
prominent in the night sky throughout June.
readers with access to a small scope, June is an excellent month for
viewing M57, the Ring Nebula, and M27, the Dumbbell Nebula.
M57 is located near Vega. It’s in the same constellation, Lyra,
but slightly lower in the sky and a bit to the south. M27 is
tougher to find. Locate the summer triangle and imagine a line
between Deneb (to the North) and Altair (to the south.) M27 is
about two thirds of the way between the two (starting at Deneb).
Its position is a little above the line but at least this exercise will
put you in the ball park.
- Full Moon is June 2.
- Last Quarter June 11.
- New Moon is June 16.
- First Quarter is the June 24.
A conjunction is when two night sky objects appear to be at the same
position in the sky. On June 30, Venus will appear to be in front
of Jupiter, hiding it from view.
Lebing is a retired computer scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey
in Washington, D.C. He has visited Hatteras Island since the
mid-1970s. He and his wife, Karen, have owned property here for several
years and moved to their home in Waves full-time in 2013.
Astronomy is a subject that Gerry says he has always been interested in
and one that he pursues seriously -- he's built an small observatory
next to his house. You can send him questions about the night sky
through e-mail, [email protected].)