Backyard Stargazer

By Francis Parnell, Contributing Writer

For June, let’s use the Moon to help identify some interesting stars that definitely aren’t Sun-like.

On June 9th, look about 7 degrees above and left of the crescent Moon to spot “Regulus,” the brightest star in Leo, the Lion. Regulus is 79 light years away, 5 times the diameter of the Sun, and 150 times brighter.

On the evening of June 10th, the Moon is halfway between Regulus and Jupiter, the “King of the Planets.”

On June 14th, “Spica,” the brightest star in Virgo, the Virgin, is less than 5 degrees below the waxing gibbous Moon. Spica is 250 light years away, and it’s also a double star! The primary is 8 times the Sun’s diameter; the secondary is 4 times the diameter of the Sun. Combined luminosity is 2,300 times that of our star.

One hour after sunset on June 17th, look south southeast to find the Moon, yellow Saturn, and blazing red Mars making a wide, flat triangle with the base stretching about 18-degrees connecting the two planets.

On the night of June 18th – 19th, the Moon and Saturn are about 4 degrees apart. Look below and right to spot brilliant “Antares,” the brightest star in Scorpius, the Scorpion. Antares, the “Heart of the Scorpion,” is a Red Supergiant, 550 light years away, 700 times the diameter of the Sun, and 17,000 times brighter.

If the weather is clear, check out these celestial sights, but remember, you have to “Keep looking up!”

Author: Duane Childers

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