Tonight – June 29, 2015 – look for the star Antares near the moon (and the planet Saturn) as darkness falls. At the same time of night, look west for Jupiter and Venus! They are spectacular now and just one day away from their conjunction, marking these two bright worlds closest appearance to each other in our night sky until August, 2016!
Want more about the Jupiter and Venus conjunction? Click into our June 30 Tonight post.
Interested in the star near tonight’s moon? Well, Antares is one of the sky’s most fascinating stars. It’s a bright, twinkling, reddish star, representing the ruby Heart of the Scorpion in the constellation Scorpius. What’s more, Antares is opposite on the sky to another bright reddish star, Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus. In other words, watch for Antares near the moon on the night of June 29. Then, if you’re up in the predawn hours on June 30, try to glimpse at the star Aldebaran close the eastern horizon tomorrow, about 75 minutes before sunrise. (See photo below.) You’ll need an unobstructed horizon in the direction of sunrise (and possibly binoculars) to see Aldebaran, the brightest star in the constellation Taurus the Bull. From the Southern Hemisphere, It’ll be easier to view Aldebaran in the predawn/dawn morning sky. Click here to find out when Aldebaran will rise into your sky.
Antares and Aldebaran reside in two different constellations, on opposite sides of the sky. Antares – the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion – stays out for most of the night tonight, and at nightfall June 29, sits rather low in the southeast with the bright waxing gibbous moon and the golden planet Saturn. Meanwhile, Aldebaran – brightest star in Taurus – hides in the sun’s glare throughout the most of June.
In late June, Antares transits – reaches its highest point in the sky – around 10 p.m. local standard time (11 p.m local daylight-saving time). This applies to all time zones. The moon, Antares and Saturn move westward throughout the night, and sit low in the southwest sky before the onset of morning dawn. Antares’ setting in the west-southwest presages Aldebaran’s rising in the east-northeast.
Aldebaran lies in the opposite location from Antares on the great dome of sky. That’s why Aldebaran rises after Antares sets – and vice versa. With each passing day, Antares sets four minutes earlier while Aldebaran rises four minutes earlier. In other words, with each passing month, Antares sets two hours earlier while Aldebaran rises two hours earlier. Six months from now, in late December, you’ll see Aldebaran nearly all night long, and Antares at morning dawn – after Aldebaran sets.
Antares shines from dusk until dawn in early June. Aldebaran is hidden in the sun’s glare from sunup until sundown in early June. Opposites!
Six months after Aldebaran’s conjunction with the sun, it’ll be Antares’ turn to be in conjunction with the sun on or near December 1. The Earth will be on the other side of the sun six months later, on December 1, so it’ll be Aldebaran that’ll shine from dusk until dawn, and Antares that’ll be lost in the glare of the sun in December.
Antares and Aldebaran reside close to the ecliptic and are well-known stars of the Zodiac. It’s cool that these two ruddy bright stars stand nearly opposite of one another on the great dome of sky.
Bottom line: Two similar-looking red stars, Antares in Scorpius and Aldebaran in Taurus, are on opposite sides of the sky. Thus, in early June, when Antares is visible from dusk till dawn, Aldebaran spends the day traveling with the sun across the sky, lost in the sun’s glare.