The June night sky

Welcome to the June night sky. This is the month of the summer solstice when the Sun is as far north in the sky as it can ever get and, therefore, it will be at its highest altitude at local midday.

This also marks the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere and this year it is on June 21. This will also be approximately the longest day and shortest night of the year.

For anyone north of the Arctic circle, the Sun will not set, giving 24 hours of daylight but, due to its low altitude in the sky, the Sun will not heat the ground very much, so it will be providing light but not warmth.

The brilliant planet Venus is still visible in the west high and bright as darkness falls. And whilst looking at Venus, right behind you will see the giant planet Jupiter rising.

Now Jupiter has just passed opposition, so it is still a large object in any telescope.

The next jewel to be seen in the night-sky through a small telescope is the ringed planet Saturn. This planet is at opposition on June 27 and the rings are still tilted towards Earth, making the view of Saturn an unforgettable sight in a small telescope.

Saturn rises in the late evening in the northern part of the constellation of Sagittarius. The full Moon is near to Saturn on the night of the 27th.

The red planet Mars is now in the constellation of Capricorn and rises in the southeast about two hours after Saturn. This planet is now brighter than Saturn and almost as bright as Jupiter and, with magnification of about a hundred times in a small telescope, some details might be seen on the surface of this tiny world.

Mars is coming to opposition this year at the end of July and this will be a very favourable one with the red planet riding high and bright in the constellation of Capricorn.

The Moon is last quarter on the 6th, new on the 13th, first quarter on the 20th and full on June 28.

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