Posted by on May 30, 2022 in Main |

This is the mid point of the year and June brings our summer solstice on the 21st of this month.

This time of year the night sky is never quite getting dark. It’s not the greatest month for spotting faint stars. Only the brightest stars can be seen. You can take advantage of the soft, warm weather to acquaint yourself with the summer constellations of Hercules, Scorpius, Lyra, Cygnus and Aquila.

Look for the bright stars like Vega in Lyra, which is high in the eastern sky, as is the Summer Triangle it forms with Altair in Aquila and Deneb in Cygnus returns to prominence.

There are two very nice objects to spot with binoculars in the eastern sky well after dark this month. Two thirds of the way up the right hand side of the 4 stars that make up the “keystone” in the constellation Hercules is M13, the best globular cluster visible in the northern sky.

Just to the left of the bright star Vega in Lyra is the multiple star system Epsilon Lyrae often called the double-double. With binoculars a binary star is seen but, when observed with a telescope, each of these two stars is revealed to be a double star – hence the name!

The Sun follows a shallow arc below our North horizon overnight, the geometry allowing views of noctilucent clouds, whose silvery-blue tracery may gleam low down between the northwest after nightfall and the northeast before dawn. Noctilucent clouds are formed by ice crystals coalescing around dust particles. They float near 82km in altitude where they reflect sunlight after our normal clouds are in darkness.

The Planets:-

MERCURY
The innermost planet will be found just to the lower left of Venus during the last week of June. The period when Mercury is most easily visible this month. The innermost planet appears in the dawn twilight low in the north east. This is the time it reaches its greatest separation from the Sun on the 16th June. Gradually ascending in the sky, Mercury brightens throughout the month to reach a magnitude of –0.6 by the end of June, when it will be rising above the horizon at 3.30am.

VENUS
The morning star surges above the north eastern horizon about 3am. Shinning at a magnificent magnitude of –3.9. AS the month progresses Venus is moving to the left against the background stars. On the morning of 12th June, Venus passes below Uranus, which is almost 10,000 times fainter at magnitude +5.8.

MARS
At the start of the month, Mars is just to the lower left of Jupiter, and it moves steadily leftwards throughout June. Located in the constellation of Pisces, the red planet has a magnitude of +0.6 and rises around 2am.

JUPITER
Jupiter moves above the eastern horizon about 1.30am. Shinning at a brilliant magnitude of –2.3 it can be found in the constellation of Pisces.

SATURN
As there are no planets in the evening sky this month, Saturn is the first to arrive at 0.30am. Located in the south east in the constellation of Capricornus, shinning at magnitude +0.7.

URANUS
The gas giant emerges in the morning sky, rising about 3am. It can be located in the constellation of Aries, shinning at magnitude +5.8.

NEPTUNE
Keen observers with a telescope can now see Neptune in the early morning skies. With a dim magnitude of +7.9, this distant planet is rising around 1am and can be found between the constellations of Aquarius and Pisces.

PLUTO
This distant planet can be found in the constellation of Sagittarius. Although it will always be low down and only visible in a ten-inch or larger telescope in a truly dark sky. The dwarf planet rises at 11.30pm at magnitude 14.37.

CERES
The largest object in the asteroid belt can be located in the constellation of Gemini this month. At magnitude 8.86 it sets below the horizon just before 11pm.

Special Events:-
14th June – The second supermoon of 2022. It will be just 1% smaller than next months full Moon.

21June – Just before dawn the bright star near the Moon is the gas giant planet Jupiter.

22nd June – Before sunrise you will find Jupiter to the right of the Moon and Mars to the left.

23rd June – Mars lies to the right of the Moon. The Bepi Colombo mission will swing past Mercury for a second time. It is due to enter orbit around the innermost planet in 2025.

26th – In the morning sky Venus and the crescent Moon make a stunning sight with the Pleiades star cluster visible in binoculars above them and Mercury to the lower left.

27th June – Before dawn to the left of Venus is the thinnest crescent Moon very near the horizon, with Mercury below.

Phases of the Moon for June:-

First quarter 7th June
Full Moon 14th June
Last quarter 21st June
New Moon 29th June