Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Summer Stargazing 2016

Since I can't find a good summary of astronomy events for the summer of 2016, I decided to create a quick listing here. These are events that you don't need a telescope to enjoy.
Summer Milky Way: John Rummel
  • ALL SUMMER: Planets! Throughout the summer, you'll have planets to enjoy. Watch their positions change relative to each other, relative to the sun, and relative to the stars. At the beginning of the summer, you'll have Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn. But by the end of the summer Venus and Mercury will join them so that we'll have all five naked-eye planets in the sky at the same time! Viewing tips and graphics can be found on the Astronomy.com and SkyAndTelescope.com sites.
  • ALL SUMMER: Stars and Constellations; Use the free star charts from Skymaps.com to learn how to find some fun star patterns.
  • June 20: Summer Solstice (northern hemisphere); This is the day that the sun rises and sets farthest north, the sun is at its highest mid-day altitude for the year, and we experience the most daylight. Coincidently, this will also be a Full Moon. 
  • July 4: Juno Arrives at Jupiter; The Juno spacecraft, which launched in 2011, will arrive at Jupiter and enter orbit around Jupiter. On this date, it will also become the fastest man-made object in history! 
  • August 11-12: Perseid Meteor Shower; This is one of the favorite meteor showers of the year, probably because of the nice weather. Unfortunately, the moon will mask all but the brightest meteors for a few hours after sunset, but meteor showers are always best after midnight anyway.
  • August 16 (Mid-August): Five Planets; August 16th, Mercury will be farthest from the sun in the sky, making it easier to spot. Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter will be hiding in the sunset, and Mars and Saturn will be in the southern sky. See the  Astronomy.com and SkyAndTelescope.com observing pages for graphics and details.
  • August 27: Venus and Jupiter Conjunction; A conjunction is when multiple celestial objects appear near each other in the sky. Even though they will be low in the sunset, this will be an event you'll want to catch! These two bright planets will appear so close to each other that they will almost appear to touch!