Night Sky


What to look for in the Caribbean sky in June 2024

By Jim Ulik

Mrs. Bronson: There was a scientist on the radio this morning. He said that it’ll get a lot hotter more each day, now that we’re moving so close to the sun. And that’s why we’re… That’s why we re …

Rod Serling: The word that Mrs. Bronson is unable to put into the hot, still, sodden air is ‘doomed,’ because the people you’ve just seen have been handed a death sentence. … The place is New York City, and this is the eve of the end because even at midnight, it’s high noon, the hottest day in history. And you’re about to spend it in the Twilight Zone.

Radio announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, tomorrow, you can fry eggs on sidewalks, heat up soup in the ocean, and get help from wandering maniacs if you choose. “The Midnight Sun,” S.3 Ep.10 Twilight Zone (1961).

To be sure, apparent temperatures are increasing as the first day of summer approaches. In June the Sun shines directly above 22 degrees latitude shifting to 23.43 degrees north on the summer solstice. Temperature in the Caribbean during the winter averages 29 degrees C (85 degrees F). During the summer the temperature will average approximately 29 degrees C. Wait …what? Actually, it is the humidity that changes from less than 50 percent in winter up to 100 percent during the summer. Land mass will radiate solar heat and the ocean will absorb it.

The “Settlers’ … first business is to cut down the trees, clear up the lands … The surface of the earth becomes more warm and dry … As the settlements increase, these effects become more general and extensive … the weather and seasons become much altered.” The Natural and Civil History of Vermont, Samuel Williams (1794).

Twice a day Thomas Jefferson logged temperatures between 1776-1826, noting deforestation had resulted in rising temperatures. Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson (1781).

Whether you prefer fact or fiction, Earth’s temperatures are rising. Anyway, adjust your solar panels for maximum power output.

Sunday, June 02

A couple of hours before the morning twilight the Moon can be seen rising followed by Mars. The Moon has left Saturn behind and has now made its close approach to Mars.

Earth will pass through the rocky debris trail left behind from comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, which broke apart in 1995. The resulting pass could produce up to 72 meteors per hour radiating out of the northeast sky from an area near the constellation Hercules. The Tau Herculids meteor shower, active May 19 – June 11, reaches its peak tonight.

Keep your eyes on the northern sky. Based on past historical events, astronomers anticipate that the white dwarf T Coronae Borealis may explode as it has done every 80 years. The nova will shine as bright as our northern star Polaris. Familiarize yourself with the constellation Corona Borealis now so that the nova can be easily identified (see Image 1). The event may occur anytime through September 2024. The position of the nova is shown in Image 2.

Tuesday, June 04

Over the past month Jupiter has disappeared from view as it continues its orbit around the back side of the Sun. This morning Jupiter is beginning to make its reappearance in the morning sky. It is currently indistinguishable from its nearest neighbor, Mercury.

Thursday, June 06

The Moon passes at its closest point to the Sun as it reaches the New Moon phase. Some believe that Lunar Lunacy occurs during the Full Moon. What can we expect tonight when “The Dark Side of the Moon” faces Earth?

Friday, June 07

The most intense of daylight meteor showers peaks today. The best area of sky to spot them is about 90 degrees west of the Sun. The number of meteors could range from 60 to 200 per hour. That count has been registered with radar, but the visual count will be less. This shower is active May 12 – June 24.

Sunday, June 09

The waxing crescent Moon sits between Cancer and Gemini. The illuminated side is facing Pollux while the dark side encroaches upon the Beehive Cluster.

Tuesday, June 11

Comet 154P/Brewington is reaching its closest approach to the Sun today. At the very least a pair of binoculars and a keen eye is required to spot this comet low in the east before the Sun brightens the morning sky. The tail points away from Earth so look for a fuzzy spot in the pre-dawn sky. The comet is located about 15 degrees above Jupiter. Your fist at arm’s length measures about 10 degrees.

Friday, June 14

The Moon will be 90 degrees away from the Sun as it rises in the east near 90 degrees true. The Moon has reached its first quarter phase sitting on the shoulder of Virgo.

Sunday, June 16

As the Moon continues its passage through Virgo it makes a close approach to Spica. This double star, appearing blue in color, is located about two degrees west of the Moon. Spica, the 15th brightest star in the sky, marks the bundle of wheat held by Virgo.

Wednesday, June 19

Look up in the southeastern sky after 1900 to find the Moon. As the sky gets darker the three stars marking the claws of Scorpius become brighter. Below you will see the red supergiant Antares. Over the next two days the Moon will pass directly over Antares exiting Scorpius tomorrow.

Thursday, June 20

Some days may seem like they may never end but today is truly the longest day of the year. The North Pole is tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its northernmost position in the sky. Tilt your solar panels accordingly. The Sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer at 23.44 degrees north latitude.

Friday, June 21

Mercury has emerged from behind the Sun to make an appearance low in the western sky. In the east you will find the Full Moon rising appearing very large above the horizon. We survived the dark side of the Moon’s passage now the Full Moon is crossing overhead.

Wednesday, June 26

The Moon is making a close approach to Saturn this evening. Both objects are in the constellation Aquarius.

Thursday, June 27

The June Bootid meteor shower peaks tonight. This year the shower is active from June 21 – July 01. The amount of meteors can vary from zero to 100 per hour. If conditions are good the total may be closer to 28 per hour. The meteors will appear out of an area below the constellation Bootes, which is located high in the northern sky.

Friday, June 28

The Moon, still residing in the group of water constellations, has left Saturn behind on its daily eastern shift. The Moon will pass in front of Neptune for most of the Caribbean between 0345 and 0515. During this time the Moon is in its third quarter phase.

Sunday, June 30

Comet 13P/Olbers has been in the western sky for some time. However, it is reaching its closest approach to the Sun tonight. That condition has increased its brightness, giving a better chance to catch a glimpse of this fuzzy object. The comet is located between Mercury and the Big Dipper. Follow the dipper’s handle toward Mercury. The comet is between the end of the handle and Mercury. *All times are given as Atlantic Standard Time (AST) unless otherwise noted.

Jim Ulik sails aboard s/v Merengue.

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