The June 2019 Night Sky

Welcome to the June night sky. This is the month of the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere. This means that the Sun will be at its highest point in the midday sky on the 21st of this month. This will be the longest day and the shortest night of 2019. North of the Arctic Circle, the Sun will not set on that day and the whole region will see 24 hours of daylight. This is called the midnight Sun.

June 10 sees the opposition of the gas giant planet Jupiter. This planet will rise in the east at sunset and will be high in the south at local midnight. The cloud belts on Jupiter can be seen with any small telescope magnifying 20 times or more, as well as the four giant moons called Io, Europa, Ganymede and finally furthest away from the planet is Calisto.

Jupiter has a very powerful magnetic field, second only to the Sun in our solar system. This field catches charged particles from the Sun and accelerates them into orbits that follow the magnet field lines that surround Jupiter. Unfortunately, for any future astronauts, the three inner moons catch these particles and their surfaces are showered with dangerous level of radiation due to the high energy that these particles possess; only Calisto is far enough away from Jupiter to escape this radiation.

Indeed, the whole of space has varying levels of radiation, some of it mild and easily shieldable, but some of it is very penetrating and deadly, and this will be a major concern in the coming years as the human race colonises the stars.

The month of June has at least a dozen well-known meteor showers, so, on any night this month, you will see some shooting stars, albeit with the required patience. Sometimes meteor showers can happen during the daytime, so obviously they will not be seen, but with the advent of radio-astronomy, daylight meteors can be detected because they briefly ironize the air that surrounds them as they pass through the atmosphere and this reflects radio waves. This technique has reviled the Beta Taurid shower that is active throughout most of this month.

By the time Jupiter is high in the south, the ringed planet Saturn will be seen rising in the southeast in the constellation of Sagittarius. This planet is always worth looking at with any optical aid as its rings are one of the finest telescopic sights in the night-time sky.

The Moon is new on the 3rd, first quarter on the 10th, full on the 17st and last quarter on June 25.
By Clive Jackson
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Clive Jackson is the Director of the Camera Obscura (next to the Castle in Tavira), specialising in education and public outreach.
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To see the June Sky Map click on the pdf link below