By Jeffrey Owen Katz, PhD
Author: Jeffrey Owen Katz, Ph. D. | Published: Friday, May 29, 2009
Ed White became the first American to walk in space on June 3, 1965, maneuvering around outside his Gemini 4 spacecraft for twenty minutes as it passed over North America. Not long thereafter, on June 2, 1966, Surveyor 1 landed on the Moon to scout out possible landing sites for future manned lunar missions. The first satellite dedicated to oceanographic study, Sea-Sat 1, was placed into orbit on June 26, 1978; among other things, such satellites have mapped the rising ocean temperatures that reflect global warming and contribute to the intensity of hurricanes. Much more recently, on June 21, 2004, SpaceShipOne became the first civilian manned spacecraft to fly to the edge of space and back in a flight that lasted 90 minutes. The spacecraft was built by a private corporation, Scaled Composites, and was piloted by the company’s vice president, Mike Melville.
Summer has finally arrived!
The Summer Solstice, which marks the beginning of summer, takes place at 5:45 UT (1:45 AM, EST) on June 21st. The day of the Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year; it is also the day when the Sun reaches its highest point in the sky. Late in the evening on the day of the Solstice, the sliver of the waxing Gibbous Moon will pass in front of the bright red star Antares in the constellation of Scorpio.
Throughout June, Saturn will continue to be an evening planet; its rings will remain nearly edge on and several of the planet’s moons will be easily seen in Custer’s new 25-inch telescope, the largest domed telescope in any public observatory on Long Island. Distant Pluto will ride high in the sky throughout the month; you can observe the movement of this hard-to-locate object against the backdrop of stars if you have access to a large telescope or sensitive CCD imaging gear, another reason to visit Custer. Jupiter will be rising not long after midnight, making it a nice planet for those who stay up late. Mercury and Venus will be early morning planets throughout June, rising an hour or so before the Sun.
The June Lyrids, a low-rate meteor shower, is predicted to take place between the 14th and 16th of the month. One can expect about ten meteors every hour from this shower.
Jeffrey Owen Katz, Ph.D., volunteers as the Observatory and Research Director of the Custer Institute. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or meet him any Saturday evening at the observatory. For detailed information about upcoming events, see the events calendar in this magazine or visit custerobservatory.org.
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