Jupiter is the biggest planet in our solar
system. Its diameter is about 87 thousand miles--that’s about 11 times
larger than Earth’s! Jupiter is also about five times further from the
sun than the Earth. The composition of Jupiter is about 90% hydrogen,
9% helium and it has small amounts of other elements. Its size and
make-up more than justify it being called a “gas giant.”
Jupiter is easy to spot on a clear night in June.
Right after sundown, look to the east and scan for a very bright
“star.” Chances are, you have found Jupiter. If you have access to a
pair of binoculars or a small telescope, there’s a good chance you
might be able to see one or more of its four Galilean moons. These
moons - (Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto) -were discovered by the
famous astronomer, Galileo Galilei, in 1610 using a homemade 37mm
(about 1.5”) refractor telescope. In recent years, the number of moons
known to be orbiting Jupiter has increased. In 2009 it was believed to
be 53. The latest count is 69.
Saturn, the 2nd biggest of our “Gas Giants,” will
rise in the east around 10:00 p.m. If you want to get your kids hooked
on astronomy, Saturn is a great place to start. Nothing seems to catch
the imagination quite as much as viewing the famous ringed planet
through a telescope.
Saturn’s diameter is about 72 thousand miles,
making it about nine times larger than Earth. It has 62 moons and a
composition that is similar to Jupiter’s. Saturn is about 9.5 times
further from the Sun than we are.
What to look for in June 2018.
All of the planets will be in the night skies on June 1.
If you’re up and looking for something to do
before sunrise, the early morning skies can offer some very good views
of the planets.
Jupiter sets in the west at about 4:30 a.m. on
the morning of the June 1. It’s the third brightest object in our night
skies, (right behind the moon and Venus), so it makes a very beautiful
Look for Mercury near the Eastern horizon just
before sunrise (5:48 a.m.) If you are up that early, you can also get a
good view of Saturn just above the Western Horizon. Mars will be
visible almost overhead. If you have some good binoculars or a
telescope, you might be able to find Uranus and Neptune too! Both
planets can be found on the Ecliptic in the Eastern half of the sky.
Uranus will be near the eastern horizon while Neptune will be close to
Venus will be visible near the western horizon
right after sunset. It will set around 10:50 p.m. With a -4 visible
magnitude, it will be beautiful.
Jupiter will be visible right after dusk, a
little ways above the eastern horizon. Saturn will rise around 10:00
p.m. followed by Mars at midnight.
There aren’t any major meteor showers in June, but you never know when you might see a shooting star on a clear summer night!
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].)
- Last Quarter is June 6
- New Moon is June 13
- 1st Quarter is June 20
- Full Moon is June 28