June, 2016 Programs

#1 —  THE SPRING CONSTELLATIONS

Locate the mythical figures in the current sky above Lincoln, and learn their legends.  Then, weather permitting, take a guided tour of the sky on the terrace behind the observatory with one of our volunteers who will show you how to locate the important stars and objects in the current night sky.  Running time:  19 minutes.

#2 — EXPLORE MARS

As the red planet enters our evening sky, we examine the latest scientific discoveries from the Martian surface (rovers Opportunity and Curiosity), and from orbit above the planet (MRO – Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and MAVEN – Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission).  Running time:  23 minutes.

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June Objects in the Hyde Telescopes

Planets:   Three planets are visible in our evening sky:  In order of rise time, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn.  Jupiter is bright and high in the southern sky, so it can be picked up in the Hyde telescopes just after sunset.  The solar system’s largest planet is endlessly fascinating as it rapidly rotates through its 10-hour day, showing us bands of clouds at the top of its atmosphere, while its four largest moons — each as large or larger than Earth’s moon — revolve around their mother world.  Mars is low in the southeast just after sunset, and plays tag with the branches of trees south of the observing deck during the evening.  This month Mars will slowly pull away from Earth, growing dimmer and smaller with each successive night, but it still offers tantalizing glimpses of surface features.  Saturn rises in the southeast about an hour after Mars.  Because it remains pretty low in the sky for most of the evening in June, its image in telescopes is somewhat hazy and squirms as we view it through our cooling atmosphere.  Still, its famous rings are open a wide 26 degrees, and Saturn always puts on a great show.

The Moon will be seen best in telescopes after its New phase on the 5th.   The optimum time to view the moon in the Hyde telescopes this month will be on the nights of June 11, (just before First Quarter)  and the 18th (just before Full Moon, when the terminator — shadow line — is still visible).  Full moon occurs on June 20, after which the moon will rise too late to be visible during the observatory’s operating hours.

Deep sky objects (stars, galaxies and nebulae) will be on full display in June, particularly on the nights of June 4 and 25 when the moon is not lighting the sky.