Saturn is once again the planet to see this month. It is high in the sky for most of the evening. Jupiter is very low in the evening twilight sky but can be seen briefly at the start of the month with both Mercury and Venus. Before sunrise, Mars can be found low to the north-east as it returns to the morning sky.
The Melbourne Planetarium will re-open on the 3rd June, after completing a major technology upgrade. A new fulldome projection system together with a 7.1 surround sound system were installed to provide brighter colours, higher resolution, and richer sound.
New Planetarium Shows
We are pleased to announce three brand new shows for the Planetarium. Please refer to the Planetarium’s What's On for session times and further details.
Ticket to the Universe (ages 8+) - Enjoy an amazing guided tour of our vast and incredible Universe.
Solar System Odyssey (ages 7+) – Stowaway on a mission to explore the Solar System.
To Space and Back (ages 10+) – Discover how space exploration is shaping your world.
Sunrise & Sunset Times
The Moon will be at apogee (furthest from Earth) on Monday 10th, at a distance of 406,486 km.
The Moon will be at perigee (closest to Earth) on Sunday 23rd, at a distance of 356,989 km.
Let The Moon Be Your Guide
The Moon can be used as a pointer to find other objects in the sky.
- Just before sunrise on the 7th, the thin waning crescent Moon sits above Mars.
- After sunset on the 11th, the waxing crescent Moon sits above Venus and Mercury.
- In the early evening of the 12th the Moon is to the right of Procyon (Canis Minor) and above Pollux one of the twins of Gemini.
- On the 14th the Moon is to the left of Regulus (Leo).
- On the 19th the waxing gibbous Moon is between Spica (Virgo) and Saturn.
- On the 22nd the almost full Moon is below Antares (Scorpius).
Mercury is in the early evening sky this month near Venus and for the first few days of the month near Jupiter as well. It is at its best around the 15th and 16th, when it sits above Venus. Then as Venus continues to move higher in the sky, Mercury heads back towards the horizon. On the 23rd, the two planets can be found side-by-side.
Venus continues to move into the evening sky and will begin to stand out in the north-west by the end of the month. Early in the month Venus can be found between Jupiter and Mercury, then on the 23rd it sits directly to the right of Mercury.
Earth experiences the Winter Solstice at 3:04pm on Friday 21st. This is the moment when the Sun is furthest north for the year. The Sun travels low across the sky and it is our shortest day. Here in Melbourne we have just 9 hours and 32 minutes of daylight.
Mars is low in the north-east during early morning twilight. On the 10th, you might just make out the bright star Regulus (Taurus) to the right of Mars.
Jupiter can only be seen for the first few days of month, low to the north-west horizon. But it’s worth taking a look as Venus and Mercury can be found just above. After this Jupiter is flooded out by the setting Sun.
Saturn can be found following Spica (Virgo) this month. On the 19th the Moon comes between Saturn and Spica.
There are a number of meteor showers occurring in Scorpius and Sagittarius this month. Although low in number (less than 10 per hour) the shower members can often be spectacular, appearing slow and bright with many displaying a yellow/orange colour. The best time to see meteors is after midnight.
Stars & Constellations
Low in the west we have our last look at Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. Its constellation of Canis Major (the great dog) will soon disappear from our sky for the winter. Above and to the south of Sirius is the second brightest star in the night sky, Canopus in Carina (the keel). Looking further south and low to the horizon you may be able to identify the bright star Achernar in Eridanus (the river) at its lowest point in the sky. Directly above Achernar, the Southern Cross reaches its highest point and remains there majestically during the winter months.
Looking eastward, the bright red star Antares, in the constellation of Scorpius (the scorpion), can be seen. Below it lies the teapot shape of Sagittarius (the archer). The region around Sagittarius is a rich area of the sky to explore with binoculars. It points towards the centre of our Milky Way Galaxy, which lies 26 000 light years away and contains a supermassive black hole.
International Space Station
From Earth, the ISS appears as a bright star that steadily moves across the sky. It can often be seen from Melbourne, for example at:
6:44am – 6:51am, Wednesday 12th June.
The Station will first appear in the north-west near Altair (Aquila) then pass above Sagittarius before disappearing in the south-east, near the bright star Canopus (Carina).
Predictions of when to see the ISS can be obtained from the Heaven's Above website.
On This Day
1st 2002, the Czech Republic becomes the first country to ban light pollution.
1st 2008, the Phoenix Mars Lander was the first spacecraft to scoop Martian soil.
6th 1971, Soyuz 11 (USSR) was launched. It carried the first people to a space station (Soviet Salyut 1).
10th 2003, the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit (USA) was launched.
11th 1985, a balloon (from Vega 1, USSR) is used to explore another planet, Venus.
13th 2010, the Hayabusa (Japan) spacecraft returned the first asteroid samples to Earth.
14th 1965, Mariner 4 (USA) returns the first close-up images of Mars.
15th 1999, a near-miss for the International Space Station as space debris passes just 7 km from the station.
16th 1963, Valentina V. Tereshkova (USSR) launched on Vostok 6 becomes the first woman in space.
18th 1983, Sally Ride is the first US woman in space (on the space shuttle Challenger).
20th 1939, Germany launches the first liquid-fuel rocket plane.
21st 2004, SpacceShipOne (USA) launched to become the first privately-funded human space flight.
22nd 1978, Dr James W. Christy (USA) discovers Pluto’s satellite Charon.
30th 1971, the Soyuz 11 (USSR) three-man crew die upon re-entry to Earth.
30th 1908, a meteor explodes over Tunguska, Russia, destroying 2,200 km² of forest