Eyes to the Sky: Earliest sunrises, Mercury at its highest

Saturday June 8, 2013

Tomorrow morning will be the first of 15 mornings when the sun rises at 5:17 Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), the earliest of the year in our locale. In Eastern Standard Time (EST), that’s 4:17 a.m., better describing the fact that day has moved into nighttime hours. Furthermore, astronomical twilight, the beginning of the end of complete darkness, will be at about 3 a.m. EDT! Civil twilight, the period when there is sufficient daylight to distinguish shapes, begins at 4:42 EDT. Bird song lifts in a chorus to its greatest intensity with the coming light. Look for the sun as it climbs over the horizon approaching its furthest point north of east during this two-week interval.

On the other side of day, sunset is approaching its furthest point north of west and sets at 8:27 today. Evening’s civil twilight begins at 9:01. Astronomical twilight, the beginning of complete darkness, is at 10:38. Planet Venus, the Evening Star, shines close to where the sun has set, brilliant before 9 o’clock. There’s a pleasant wait for fainter planet Mercury to appear above and to the left of Venus, coming into view as twilight deepens, by 9:15. Mercury will be at its highest in the west-northwestern sky on Wednesday the 12th.

While away the time awaiting Mercury by looking overhead for the brightest true star in the evening sky, Arcturus. In natural settings, especially near a pond or wetland, a symphony of frog song fills the air, equaling morning twilight’s bird song. And the colors of light in the western sky are mesmerizing.

A crescent moon joins Venus on Monday, setting with the goddess at 9:54. Mercury sets at 10:18.

To contact Judy Isacoff go to: www.naturesturn.org


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