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Planet Venus Expected to Put On a Dazzling Show in June

From United Press International

The cloud-shrouded planet Venus, a distinct crescent viewed through binoculars, puts on a dazzling sunrise show in June, and Saturn is well situated for evening viewing.

The summer solstice, when the sun reaches a point farthest north of the celestial equator for the year’s longest day and shortest night, will occur June 21.

Earth will sweep across the paths of no less than 13 suspected meteor streams in June, but many are daylight showers detectable only by radar.

Saturn continues to lead the procession of planets and is well above the eastern horizon at sunset. On June 1, the ringed planet can easily be found in the southeast sky about 45 minutes after sunset just north of the full moon.

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Saturn, a somewhat dim, yellowish “star,” crosses the meridian, an imaginary line running overhead from north to south, shortly after 10 p.m. local time.

The distant planet Uranus reaches opposition on June 6. Thus, the planet will be on the meridian at midnight in the constellation Ophiuchus. Neptune follows suit on June 23 in the constellation Sagittarius.

The Voyager 2 probe, which explored Jupiter in 1979 and Saturn in 1981, is closing in on Uranus for a close encounter on Jan. 24, 1986. The spacecraft will come within 66,000 miles of the planet.

Because Uranus is 1.8 billion miles from the sun, it will take two hours and 45 minutes for Voyager’s signals to reach Earth.

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The morning sky in June offers a beautiful display of planets for the backyard observer. Jupiter shines like a beacon due south about 45 minutes before sunrise while Venus dominates the eastern horizon.

On June 12, Venus reaches its greatest elongation west of the sun, that is, its maximum angular distance from the star as viewed from Earth--45.8 degrees.

Two days later, on June 14, Venus and the crescent moon make a striking pair in the morning sky and, two days after that, Venus reaches aphelion, the outermost point of its orbit around the sun.

Venus, which is running well ahead of Earth in its orbital path, can be seen through binoculars as a brilliant crescent. By early August, Venus will rise about three hours before the sun.

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