The bright stars Arcturus and Vega, fourth and fifth brightest of the night sky, are seen high above in twilight. I use them to locate the constellation Hercules, which is one third of the way from Vega to Arcturus. Another constellation, the nominal crowning glory of the northern sky, is one third of the way from Arcturus to Vega. Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown, does not stand out among its neighbours or contain any popular telescopic treasures like Hercules does, but its semicircle of stars is pretty to look at. If you have a really clear view of the southern horizon you might catch the Southern Crown, Corona Australis, hugging the horizon below Sagittarius around 2 am this week or midnight in late July.
In mythology, Ariadne was the daughter of King Minos of Crete. She helped Theseus slay the bull-headed Minotaur and escape from the Labyrinth, and then accompanied him and his crew on a voyage home to Athens. Along the way they stopped at the island home of Dionysus, the god of wine. After a night of revelry the crew was made to leave without Ariadne, and Dionysus presented her with a beautiful crown if she would be his bride. The crown was placed in the sky to commemorate their wedding. The constellation also represents a bear’s den in a local aboriginal legend of the bear and seven hunters, which includes stars in the Big Dipper and Boötes.
This Week in the Solar System
Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 5:28 am and sunset will occur at 9:14 pm, giving 15 hours, 46 minutes of daylight (5:36 am and 9:15 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 5:31 am and set at 9:14 pm, giving 15 hours, 43 minutes of daylight (5:39 am and 9:15 pm in Saint John). The nights are getting longer!
The Moon is full at 1:53 am on Thursday, the Mi’kmaq Trees Fully Leaved Moon. It is near Jupiter this Saturday, Saturn on Wednesday and Mars next Saturday. Venus sets around 11:30 pm this week, and a telescope will show it slightly more than half-lit by sunlight. Look for Mercury with binoculars 15 degrees to the lower right of Venus, starting a half hour after sunset when it is about 9 degrees above the horizon. Jupiter is situated for great observing in the evening and a telescope could show its Red Spot eyeing us around 10 pm on Monday. The shadow of its largest moon, Ganymede, might also be seen at that time, starting its transit across the Jovian cloud top. Saturn is at opposition on Wednesday, rising below the Moon around sunset. Mars rises well before midnight this week and perhaps it will look more yellow than bright orange. The dust storm that sprang up a couple of weeks ago has gone global. We hope the storm will dissipate before the end of July, when Mars will be at its closest in 15 years.
The last RASC NB meeting until September takes place on June 23 at 1 pm in Moncton High School. All are welcome.
Questions? Contact Curt Nason at firstname.lastname@example.org.