Night Sky June 2019
To use the star chart: print it out and then use it to locate the planets and constellations at night by holding it above your head and pointing the 'South' pointer of the chart southwards.
Ian Morison tells us what we can see in the Northern Hemisphere night sky during June 2019.
Ian Morison tells us what we can see in the northern hemisphere’s night sky during June 2019.
- Jupiter, shining at magnitude -2.6 throughout the month, reaches opposition on June 10th and is thus visible throughout the night. Its angular size is 46 arc seconds across. Jupiter lies in the south of Ophiuchus up and to the left of Antares in Scorpius. A highlight gives the times when the Great Red Spot faces the Earth. Sadly it is heading towards the southernmost part of the ecliptic so, as it crosses the meridian, it will only have an elevation of ~14 degrees (Central UK). Atmospheric dispersion will thus take its toll and an atmospheric dispersion corrector would greatly help to improve our views of the giant planet.
- Saturn, shining with a magnitude increasing from +0.3 to +0.1 during the month, rises around 22:00 UT at the beginning of June so crosses the meridian in the early hours of the morning. By month's end it rises around 21:00 UT. It is moving towards opposition on July 9th. Its disk is ~18 arc seconds across and its rings - which are still nicely tilted from the line of sight - spanning some 40 arc seconds across. Sadly, now in Sagittarius and lying on the southern side of the milky way, is at the lowest point of the ecliptic and will only reach an elevation of ~14 degrees. As with Jupiter, an atmospheric dispersion corrector will help improve our view.
- Mercury, following its passage through superior conjunction (behind the Sun) on May 21st, is now visible, low in the north-west after sunset. As it moves towards greatest elongation east on June 23rd it rises higher in the sky after sunset, however though starting the month at magnitude -1.1, this falls to magnitude +0.1 by the 17th and falls to +0.9 by month's end. Its angular size increases from 5.5 to 9.2 arc seconds as the month progresses. To spot it, one will need a very low horizon and binoculars could well be needed to reduce the Sun's background glare, but please do not use them until after the Sun has set.
- Mars, remains at magnitude +1.8 magnitude all month and is still visible in the south western sky after sunset. Initially in Gemini, it moves into Cancer on the 28th of the month. Mars sets some two hours after the Sun at the start of June (with an elevation as darkness falls of ~11 degrees) but by less than one hour by month's end. Its angular size falls from 3.9 arc seconds to 3.7 arc seconds by month’s end so one will not be able to spot any details on its salmon-pink surface. .
- Venus, with a magnitude of -3.8 rises just one hour before the Sun this month with its angular size reducing from 10.5 to 9.9 arc seconds as it moves away from the Earth. However, at the same time, the percentage illuminated disk (its phase) increases from 94% to 98% - which is why the brightness remains constant at -3.8 magnitudes. Its elevation is only ~4 degrees at sunrise so a very low horizon just north of east is required and binoculars may well be needed to spot it through the Sun's glare - but please do not use them after the Sun has risen.
- June 5th - after sunset: Mars close to a very thin crescent Moon. Given a low horizon looking towards northwest after sunset one should, if clear, be able to spot Mars lying over to the left of a very thin crescent Moon.
- June 8th - after sunset: The Moon in Leo. Looking west in the evening a waxing crescent Moon will be seen lying above Regulus in Leo.
- June 15th - late evening: Jupiter near the Moon. Around Midnight, Jupiter will be seen over to the right of a Moon coming up to full.
- June 19th - midnight: Saturn and the Moon. During the night of the 19th June Saturn will be seen up to the left of the Moon, just before full.
- June 27th - after sunset: Mars and Mercury. After sunset given a low horizon in the northwest you may be able to spot Mars and Mercury together down to the left of Castor and Pollux in Gemini. Binoculars may well be needed but please do not use them until after the Sun has set.
- June: Look for the Great Red Spot on Jupiter.
- June 10th evening: Mons Piton and Cassini. Best seen after First Quarter, Mons Piton is an isolated lunar mountain located in the eastern part of Mare Imbrium, south-east of the crater Plato and west of the crater Cassini. It has a diameter of 25 km and a height of 2.3 km. Its height was determined by the length of the shadow it casts. Cassini is a 57km crater that has been flooded with lava. The crater floor has then been impacted many times and holds within its borders two significant craters, Cassini A, the larger and Cassini B. North of Mons Piton can be seen a rift through the Alpine Mountains (Montes Alpes). Around 166 km long it has a thin rille along its center. I have never seen it but have been able to image it as seen in the lunar section.
- Meteor Showers. Certain meteor showers take place in June. The Arietids takes place May 22 to July 2 each year, and peaks on June 7. The Beta Taurids June 5 to July 18. The issue with those is that the Sun is very close to the two constellations, Aries and Taurus and also you will have to wake up very early in the morning to watch them providing you have a good horizon. The June Bootids take place roughly between 26 June and 2 July each year. Bootes is grazing the northern horizon in Wellington.
- What’s the Sun up to? The Sun rises from 7:30 to 7:50AM throughout the month and sets at about 5:00 PM throughout the month. Beautiful and long nights are here but so is cold weather. In the meantime we are basking in 32 degrees in the Sun in the Northern Hemisphere. In June, the Sun first transits the zodiacal constellations of Taurus switching to Gemeni on the 23rd of June.
- The Milky Way We are now looking towards the centre of our galaxy, which rises in the South East just after sunset and reaches meridian around midnight in the middle of the month.
- Bright stars in the Milky Way Starting from the West after sunset Betelgeuse is slowly sinking into the Sun and it will be gone from the evening sky towards the middle of the month. In zig-zag to the North is Procyon, the Little Dog alpha star. Zig-zagging again is Sirius, the big dog, and Adhara. Suhail al Muhlif is shining in Vela and Avior, Aspidiske and Miaplacidus are bright stars in Carina. The beautiful stars of the Southern Cross follow the two pointers, Alpha and Beta Centauri.Later on in the night after the centre of the Milky Way rises, is Antares and Shaula in Scorpius, Nunki in Sagittarius and last but not least, after midnight, Altair and Vega are grazing the northern horizon with their beauty.
- Orion and Scorpius Orion is very close to Taurus and it will sink further towards the horizon as the month progresses. Enjoy it while it lasts, for the rest of this month it will disappear from our sight mid-June.
- Bright stars on the ecliptic Regulus in Leo (which is extremely close to the ecliptic) and Spica, the blue giant in Virgo are great shiny stars, also Zubenelgenubi, another star grazing the ecliptic and Zubeneschamali just beneath it. Zubenelgenubi means the northern claw and Zubeneschamali the southern claw, alluding to these two stars that have been the claws of Scorpius before they were chopped off and turned into the current constellation of Libra. They are followed by Antares which is the last very bright star visible on the ecliptic before sunrise.
- Circumpolar Objects to New Zealand The beautiful Southern Cross and the pointers are high in the sky at sunset. Gacrux and Acrux are crossing the meridian around around 7 PM in the middle of the month. Omega Centauri is in a great position to observe, as well as Musca, Vela, Carina and their Diamond Cross, and False Cross and the Large Magellanic Cloud and its Tarantula Nebula.
- Binocular Objects in June Binoculars come in many shapes and forms, a great size for stargazing is 7 x 50 or 10 x 50. The first number is a measure of power, it means how much these binoculars magnify, in this case the 7 and the 10. The second number is the diameter of the objective (the big lenses at the front) in millimetres, in this case the 50. We really like binoculars because they are light, you can take them easily with you on trips, they don’t really require assembly and disassembly, no polar alignment, and visually are better than telescopes! With a tripod attached they are truly magnificent. Comets and some open star clusters are sometimes better observed with binoculars. We have two eyes, so binocular views are more spectacular in many regards than telescopic, because our brains interpret what we see, binoculars give depth of view as they engage both eyes in the process. There are a few great objects that you could admire in binoculars. You can get a map and look for all these objects. Or, if everything else fails, simply take your binoculars and swipe the Milky Way from one edge to the other. You might not figure out exactly which objects you are looking at but you would definitely find amazing sights, especially in the region close to Carina. You will find there IC2602, NGC3114, NGC353, NGC2516 that are all open clusters then in Crux NGC4755 which is another open cluster, NGC2451 in Puppis, and IC2391 in Vela. Lower down, Omega Centauri, is a globular cluster in Centaurus and in Scorpius, there are the Butterfly Cluster, M7 open cluster and NGC6231 open cluster.
- Telescope Objects in June A fantastic night in central Wellington where the Large Magellanic Cloud is only visible with averted vision, still, not bad for a capital city. We looked at the Southern Beehive NGC 2516, Gem Cluster NGC 3293, Southern Pleiades IC 2602, Wishing Well NGC 3532, Jewel Box NGC 4755, Omicron Velorum IC 2391, Omega Centauri NGC 5139, Alpha Centauri and Acrux, Tarantula NGC 2070.
- Planets From the start of the month Jupiter's position just keeps getting better and better. At the start of the month it rises about 5:30 in the very early evening and by the end of the month it’s already a third of the way up the sky by that time. The best thing is that you won’t have to stay up too late to get the best views of Jupiter at the end of the month because the planet will be nearly straight up from around 10:30pm. With the minimum amount of atmosphere to look through you should see some fantastic detail on the planet and those who are into imaging the gas giant may be able to capture some of the activity that is going on with the Great Red Spot at the moment - which may have to change it’s name to the Mediocre Red Spot. The Moon and Pluto have a visually close encounter at 10pm also on the 19th June. Good luck seeing it though given the huge difference in brightness of the two celestial objects.
Haritina Mogosanu and Samuel Leske tell us what we can see in the southern hemisphere’s night sky during June 2019.
Provided courtesy of: http://www.jodcast.net/