What's up June 28-July 4

Get to know the big dipper in the evening and take in a virtual tour of the sky and an air and space museum during the day.

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A satellite passes near the milky way (Photo: Ken Christison)
Tony Rice
, NASA Ambassador
ERS-1, a European Earth-observing satellite, is visible in this image captured by Ken Christison near Roanoke Rapids early the morning of Jun 24, 2020
As June turns to July, this sky chart courtesy of the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center will help you identify the constellations.

June 30th is Asteroid day, a day of global awareness co-founded by astrophysicist and Queen guitarist Dr. Brian May and Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart. The United Nations declared this day in 2016 in response to the meteor impact in Chelyabinsk, Russia. A schedule of a full week of streaming talks is available on

Sunday June 28

  • After sunset, look for the first quarter moon alongside the bright star Spica. This is a great time to observe the Moon, especially with a small telescope or binoculars. The Sun's side angle produces shadows that make craters and ridges easier to see.

Monday June 29

  • 2 pm: The Astronomy Club of the Pacific offers a live reading of the illustrated children’s storybook, Imani’s Moon, by JaNay Brown-Wood. Free registration is required.
  • The Moon is at perigee tonight, its furthest point from the Earth
  • Around 10 pm, look for the Big Dipper hanging down in the northwest by its handle. This asterism is formed by the brightest seven stars of the larger constellation Ursa Major (the big bear). Astronomers generally refer to these stars by their Arabic name Alioth, Dubhe, Merak, Alkaid, Phecda, Megrez, and Miza. Follow the two bottom stars to the right to find Polaris, the pole star.
The big dipper is an asterism, a smaller part of the larger constellation Ursa Major

Tuesday June 30

Wednesday, July 1

  • 4:20 am: The International Space Station will emerge from the Earth's shadow in the northwest before setting on the northeastern horizon about four minutes later
  • 4:30-5 pm Tour the solar system from educators at the California Academy of Sciences Morrison Planetarium with live Q&A.
  • 9:41 pm: a large piece of space junk, the rocket that lifted the Russian Resurs 01 satellite into orbit in 2006 will be visible moving from the southeast to north.
  • 11:31 pm: Terra, an Earth observing satellite which monitors the atmosphere, ocean, land, snow and ice, and energy budget, will exit Earth's shadow overhead, setting on the northern horizon seven minutes later.

Thursday, July 2

  • 3:34 am: The International Space Station will emerge from the Earth's shadow in the northern sky before setting on the northeastern horizon about three minutes later

Saturday, July 4

  • It's summer, temperatures are in the high 80s but Earth is actually at its furthest point from the Sun, aphelion. It will reach the closest point, perihelion, on January 2.

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