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Wyoming Skies for June


May 28, 2009 — It is again that wonderful month June when the summer night skies present themselves with grand displays of star colors, star clusters and revealing constellations.

The most common beacons, the Big Dipper, Cassiopeia (the big "W" in the sky) and Polaris the north star, guide our way to the heavens.

The Big Dipper, a part of Ursa Majoris, is overhead after sunset. Cassiopeia is on the northern horizon. During the night watch, Cassiopeia rises up from the northeast, while the big "W" starts to decline in the north west.

On the eastern horizon you will first see the bright star Vega, then Deneb (more northerly) and finally Altair, which in combination make up the summer triangle. Going toward the southern horizon you will notice a curlicue shaped constellation with a bright red star Antares. This is the constellation Scorpios.

Watch Leo descend toward the west accompanied by Saturn and its multi-colored rings. Jupiter rises right after midnight and is located in Aquarius. Venus and Mars are paired planets in Aries the Ram rising about two hours before sunrise.

June 2009 interest: Some Facts about the Seasons:

The annual summer solstice arrives June 21. This is the day with the longest period of daylight in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, it would be the day with the smallest number of daylight hours.

Continuous daylight is at the North Pole during this time, with the sun about 23 degrees above the horizon. You would live in a sun-drenched merry-go-round. If you lived in the South Pole, there would be 24 hours of nighttime, but the stars will be ever present.

As for the earth itself, it is much further from the sun in June compared to December. In fact the earth is closest to the sun Jan. 4 this year and furthest from the sun July 4.

The distance from the sun cannot account for the seasons, but what does?

For more information, visit the Wyoming Skies home page (http://wyoskies.uwyo.edu) or send an e-mail to canterna@uwyo.edu.

Posted on Thursday, May 28, 2009

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