THE NIGHT SKY OVER SAUK COUNTY COLUMN: Weird planetary lineup in the mornings | Recreation

Look to the east-southeast before sunrise in mid-June to see the five classical planets lined up above the horizon. These are the five planets visible without optical aid that the ancients knew: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. And as a bonus, the planets even appear in that order.

Mercury, being closest to the horizon and only popping above the landscape for the middle of the month, will be the hardest to catch. Venus, just above and to the right, should be easiest because of how brilliantly bright it is compared to all other points of light.

Further to the upper right is reddish Mars, followed by brighter Jupiter. Then, quite a bit further to the right is Saturn.

The moon scoots along the line of planets, starting near Saturn on June 18. On June 21, it’s near Jupiter, and on June 22, it’s close to Mars. A very slender, waning crescent moon is near Venus on June 26. On June 27, you can find the sliver of a moon near Mercury.

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With all the planets lined up in the morning sky that leaves the evening sky with the stars alone. Can you spot the Summer Triangle? The Summer Triangle will rise above the eastern horizon by around 10 pm It floats above the Milky Way. Look toward the center of the Milky Way by tracing the grayish swath toward the southern horizon.

The Big Dipper should be close to overhead on June evenings. You can arc from the handle to get to the bright star Arcturus, and then drive a spike down toward the horizon to pass through the bright star Spica.

Arcturus is the brightest star in the constellation Bootes, while Spica is the brightest star in Virgo. Virgo is one of the 12 constellations of the zodiac. The sun, moon and planets travel this path in front of these constellations. On June 9 and 10, the moon is not far from Spica in Virgo.

If you find the moon every evening starting on June 1 for the first couple weeks, you can see it travel from Gemini into Cancer and then Leo, Virgo, Libra and Scorpius.

June’s full Strawberry Moon, which is also a supermoon because of how close it is to us in its orbit, occurs at 6:52 am June 14. You can also see it rises on that evening looking full and gorgeous in the constellation Sagittarius near a group of stars shaped like a teapot.

Summer arrives with the solstice at 4:14 am June 21. Time to enjoy warm air, long days, and short, starry nights.

Kelly Kizer Whitt fell in love with astronomy while a student at Sauk Prairie High School, earned her degree at UW-Madison and shares her love with this column.

Kelly Kizer Whitt fell in love with astronomy while a student at Sauk Prairie High School, earned her degree at UW-Madison and shares her love with this column.

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