Summer Swan, Saturn’s Triangle, and Strawberry Moon

This week find another constellation from the Summer Triangle and check out a nice triangle featuring the planet Saturn. It is a week for some bright passes of ISS too.  Here is your guide to the sky for June 5 to 11, 2017…

Constellations – Cygnus the Swan

Cygnus the Swan is another of the constellation of the Summer Triangle, and like Lyra the Harp from last week, it is marked by a bright star to aid in finding this lovely bird.  Around 9:30 pm look for Deneb (tail in Arabic) directly in the northeast.  It will be below Vega and farther to the north.  Deneb marks the tail of Cynus.  Follow a line parallel to the horizon until you come to Alberio which is beneath Vega and marks the swan’s head.  Finally look for the crossbar or “wing” which are perpendicular to the horizon.  This “Northern Cross” is Cygnus the Swan.  The constellation is associated with the legend of Leda and Zeus.  Leda was the queen of the Spartans who gave birth to the twins Castor and Pollux (Gemini Twins) after being seduced by Zeus who had transformed himself into a swan.  The Chinese story is that this group of stars represents a magpie bridge over the Milky Way separating two lovers, which were allowed to meet for one night a year.

Cygnus – courtesey of

Planets in the Sky – Moon, Saturn, Antares Triangle

Thursday evening look for a nice triangle formed by Saturn, Antares in Scorpius and the Moon around 9:00pm.  The Moon will be 3 degrees north of Saturn on Friday.  That same evening Jupiter appears stationary in the sky. Brilliant Venus rises in the east at 2:50 am in the constellation of Pisces. Mars is low in the west at sunset, while Mercury is a challenge in morning twilight rising around 4am.

Sun – Earth – Moon

Sunrise this week is 4:50 am and sunset at 8:19 pm, with the Sun in Taurus being equidistant from Mercury and Mars at midweek.  Full Moon takes place on Friday at 9:10 am and it is at apogee on Thursday.  Algonquin tribes in North America knew this Full Moon as a time to gather ripened strawberries – so to them it was the Strawberry Moon!  Might be a good week to check your strawberries or get some from the local farmers market!

Sky this week courtesy of

for one night a year.

Satellites to See

Look for the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday evening from 9:21 pm to 9:27 pm moving from northwest to east, with a second  brief chance to see it later the same evening from 10:57 pm to 11:00am moving west-northwest to southwest.  On Tuesday night it makes its brightest pass for the week from 10:05 pm to 10:10 pm moving from west-northwest to southeast.  See it on Friday from 9:05 pm to 9:12 pm moving from northwest to southeast.  Sunday morning look for the Chinese Tiangong 1  from 3:32 am to 3:37 am  moving from southwest to east.


Check out the Strawberry Moon, look for Saturn, and see Cygnus – its all in the skies above here in Maine. Happy stargazing and keep your eye on the sky!



Shawn Laatsch

About Shawn Laatsch

Shawn Laatsch is the director of the Emera Astronomy Center and Jordan Planetarium at the University of Maine. He started his astronomy education career in 1984 and has directed planetariums in university and science center facilities, taught undergraduate astronomy courses, and given numerous lectures around the globe. He serves as President (2017 & 2018) of the International Planetarium Society, Inc. the world’s largest organization of planetarium professionals. Shawn has a passion for sharing astronomy and stargazing with people of all ages.