Click here to see rising and setting times for this week.
Mercury has turned back toward the Sun and is now too close to sunrise for observation. Venus is also heading back to the Sun, but its position in the evening sky is still distant enough for a few hours of observation after sunset. Look for this brightest planet in Cancer, high in the northwest after sunset. Venus does not set until about 11 PM each night. Mars sets around midnight throughout this week. In the evenings, you can find it above and to the left of Regulus in Leo. The planet is well up in the western sky after sunset. Jupiter is in Pisces and rises around 1 AM each morning. By sunrise, the planet is high in the southeastern sky. Look for Saturn in Virgo, above and to the left of Mars in the western sky after sunset; Saturn sets within an hour of the Red Planet each night.
The Moon will be waxing toward its Full phase throughout this week and will consequently be visible throughout more and more of each successive night. The Moon is just past First Quarter (falling on the night of Friday, June 18) and should be high in the south at sunset for the weekend. Look for the Moon further to the east at sunset as the days go on – it will rise at almost the same time as sunset by Friday, June 25. Along with growing larger, the Moon stays longer in the night sky as it heads to full. By Friday night, we will have a nearly-Full (officially Full early on Saturday morning) Moon throughout all hours of darkness.
The summer solstice occurs on Monday, June 21. This day represents the longest day of the year for the Northern Hemisphere, caused by the Sun reaching its most northern point in the sky. The official solstice moment occurs on the 21st at 7:28 AM (Eastern Daylight Time). Due to our methods of timekeeping, the summer solstice does not represent the earliest rising time (the Sun actually rises 1 minute later on the solstice than it did a couple of days earlier) or the latest setting time. However, the combination of rising and setting times still make June 21 the longest for the year.
The Boötid meteor shower peaks this week, with an expected maximum occurring on Wednesday, June 23. The radiant point of this constellation is in the northern constellation, Boötes, about 30 degrees to the north-northeast of the bright star, Arcturus.
The Boötid meteors are rarely impressive (averaging only 10 meteors per hour, even at peak times), but they are quite variable in strength and occasionally produce up to hundreds of meteors each hour. There is a chance that 2010 will be an excellent year, based on past performance. Unfortunately, the best viewing times – a few hours before dawn – coincide with the bright, almost-Full Moon.
Click here to go to the New York City sky viewing archive.