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NASA’s June skywatching tips include Mars in the Beehive

NASA is back again with its monthly roundup of what to look out for in the sky over the coming weeks.

Kicking right off with Thursday and Friday, Mars finds itself in the Beehive Cluster, a group of stars also known as Praesepe or M44 that’s around 600 light years away.

“The pairing will make for great viewing through binoculars or a small telescope, with a sparkle of faint stars surrounding the rust-colored disk of Mars,” NASA said on its website.

To make it easy to pick out Mars and the Beehive, try one of these excellent astronomy apps on your smartphone.

Throughout this month you you can also witness Mars and Venus appearing to move closer together in the western sky after sunset. NASA notes that a crescent moon will pass through from June 20 through June 22, making for a striking spectacle at dusk on June 21.

Early birds, meanwhile, can catch Saturn and Jupiter rising before dawn. The two planets will be visible in the eastern side of the sky before sunrise throughout June, and on June 14 Jupiter will rise with the crescent moon.

NASA also recommends looking out for Spica and Arcturus, two particularly bright stars.

“Orange giant Arcturus is the brightest star in Bootes, the herdsman,” the space agency explained. “It’s the fourth brightest star in the sky. It’s much closer than Spica, at a distance of about 37 lightyears. It’s also quite an old star, compared to our sun, at an age of 7-8 billion years.”

Finally, NASA notes that June 21 is the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, and Winter Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. This means the longest day for the north in terms of sunlight as our nearest star tracks its highest, longest path across the sky, and the shortest in the south, where the sun stays low. Watch NASA’s video at the top of this page to find out how the summer solstice helped the ancient Greeks 2,200 years ago to calculate the size of our planet with impressive accuracy.

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Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
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