Hey, Sky Fans!
What’s happening? How’s things? Welcome to June, and happy Pride month! If you’re celebrating, I hope it’s a great month for you.
So, here we are in June, the last three weeks of the north’s spring. So, the moment you’ve all been waiting for… it’s the Moon’s primary phases for June 2021!
- Last Quarter: June 2
- New Moon: June 10
- First Quarter: June 18 (UTC) / June 17 (points west of UTC)
- Full Moon: June 24
It’s a pretty busy month for the ol’ cheeseball. We start the month at third quarter, or if you prefer, last quarter. That’s the one when the Moon is ahead of Earth in our orbit and is to our right as seen from above the north pole while facing the Sun. In the northern hemisphere, its left-hand side is lighted. Third quarter Moons rise around midnight and set around noon.
This month, third quarter happens at like 3:30 AM EDT, or like 8:30 UTC. So it’ll look… third… quartery… on the 1st, and pr0bz still a bit on the 3rd. By the time it rises into the early morning, it’ll be in a nice, sedate line traling behjind our friends Saturn (the with-the-heavy-rings one), and ol’ stripey pants, himself, Jupiter.
From here, the Moon swings into the morning skies. On the 10th, we hit new Moon. That’s when the Moon is between Earth and the Sun. The Moon’s orbit is tilted slightly relative to the ecliptic — that’s the path the Sun takes across the sky — so, it’s not always exactly between Earth and the Sun. Sometimes, though, a couple times a year at new Moon (and only at new), things line up and the Moon actually does cross the Sun’s face. This casts a shadow on Earth, and we have what we call an eclipse.
This month, the Moon will be near its apogee, its farthest point from Earth. Since farther things look smaller, the Moon won’t appear quite big enough to give us a total eclipse. Instead, it’s an annular eclipse, sometimes called a ring-of-fire eclipse. When maximum eclipse happens, there’ll be what looks like a giant hole in the middle of the Sun, with a thin ring around the outside.
The word annular means ring-shaped, and is from the same Latin root that gives us a bunch of words, like annual (yearly), and, of course, the 7th planet joke.
In US, particularly in the east, the Sun will rise partially eclipsed, and look, ironically enough, like a waxing crescent Moon. It’ll be early and you’ll need a clear view to the east to see it, and I recomment doing some recon a few days before to find your spot. You don’t want to be driving around at 5:00 in the morning looking for a view only to miss the whole thing.
Maximum annularity is visible across a chunk of Canada, Greenland, up and over the North Pole (you listening, Santa?) and off into Russia. For info about timing and about the eclipse, this Wikipedia page is a good place to start.
Remember, DON’T LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE ECLIPSE! Use eclipse glasses, a pasta strainer, some Cheez-It crackers, or project the eclipse through binoculars onto some cardboard, BUT DO NOT LOOK THROUGH THE BINOCULARS AT IT DIRECTLY. You’ll burn your eyes out kid! You might even be able to let the trees do the projecting for you. Just look at the ground and you might see tiny crescent suns everywhere, as the leaves act like hundreds of pinholes. Here’s a post I did before the 2017 eclipse about watching safely. THAT’S A LOT OF YELLING!
As the Moon comes out from new, it’ll ride past Venus and Mars. First quarter is near the bright star Spica (in Virgo), and then it passes Antares (in Scorpius) before reaching full in the middle of the Teapot asterism of Sagittarius (Yes! Spelled it right the first time!). With those two constellations back on the radar, there’s no denying it; summer is here. In fact, in the north summer actually *IS* here as of Sunday the 20th, which is also Father’s Day in the US. If you’re in the south, get out the mittens. That’s when your winter starts.
Here’s hoping it’s a great month. I hope you’re well.
Clear skies, everyone!