You'd think we'd get a break after the solar eclipse, but no, the moon has more in store for us.
Friday, June 11, if you look low in the northwestern sky between 45 and 75 minutes after sunset, you'll see a very thin lunar crescent a short distance to the right of Venus. They'll be about 3 degrees apart seen from the East Coast and 1 3/4 degrees from the West Coast. The separation changes because the moon is moving east (left, toward Venus) as it orbits the Earth. By the time it's twilight in San Francisco, the moon will have set for New Yorkers but moved considerably closer to Venus.
The same night, observers in Oregon and Washington will also get to see the moon occult the star Mebsuta (also known as Epsilon Geminorum) in Gemini shortly after local sunset. Mebsuta shines at magnitude 3 and will disappear along the dark, eastern edge of the moon. You'll need a 3-inch or larger telescope to watch it because the sky will still be bright. For that same reason, the moon's edge will probably be impossible to see. That means Mebsuta will disappear in what appears to be a blue sky!
Before its disappearance, the star will look rather faint, but it should be much easier to see when it exits the other side of the moon in a darker sky. The moon will be low at the time, so make sure you find a suitable location with a good northwestern horizon.
While you're out admiring the crescent tonight, bring binoculars to see its full outline, which will be dimly illuminated by light reflected off the Earth called earthshine. Then on Sunday evening, June 13, you can use binoculars again for an even better look at the earth-lit moon as well as Mars and the Beehive star cluster. The cluster is located in Cancer 577 light-years away and a perfect object for binocular viewing.
The candy keeps on coming.
"Astro" Bob King is a freelance writer for the Duluth News Tribune. Read more of his work at duluthnewstribune.com/astrobob.