(Please note all times are ST and are based on an observing location of Belfast and covers the month of June)
At the start of the month, the Sun rises at 04:55 and sets at 21:45. By month's end, it rises at 04:50 and sets at 22:00.
18th – Mercury 14 arcminutes (just under half a full moon’s width) North of Mars.
Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation on the 23rd and is visible in the evening sky during the month, moving from Taurus to Cancer. At the start of the month it sets at 23:00 and is mag -1.0, by month’s end it sets 1 hour after sunset and is mag +1.1.
Venus is not easily visible this month.
Mars is visible in the evening sky during the month, moving from Gemini to Cancer. It maintains its brightness at +1.8 during the month. It sets at 00:05 at the start of the month and at 23:10 by month’s end.
Jupiter is at opposition on the 10th and is visible this month in Ophiuchus. At the start of the month, it rises at 22:25 and by month’s end, it rises during daylight hours. It fades from mag -2.5 to mag -2.4 during the month.
Saturn is visible in the morning sky this month in Sagittarius. At the start of the month, it rises at 00:30 and by month’s end it rises at 22:25. It brightens from mag +0.3 to mag +0.1 during the month.
Uranus becomes visible as a morning object this month during the month in Aries. By month’s end it rises at 01:55 and is mag +5.8.
Neptune is at western quadrature on the 9th and is visible in the morning sky this month in Aquarius. At the start of the month, it rises at 02:40 and by month’s end it rises at 00:45. It maintain its brightness at mag +7.9.
The new moon is on the 3rd (11:02) with the first quarter moon on the 10th (06:59). The full moon is on the 17th (09:31) with the last quarter moon on the 25th (10:46).
4th pm the 3% waxing crescent lies SE of Mercury at 22:00.
5th pm the 8% waxing crescent lies E of Mars at 23:00.
8th pm the 35% waxing crescent lies N of Regulus (Alpha (α) Leonis, mag +1.4) at 23:00.
12th pm the 79% waxing gibbous lies N of Spica (Alpha (α) Virginis, mag +1.0) at 23:00.
15th pm the 98% waxing gibbous lies N of Antares (Alpha (α) Scorpii, mag +0.9) and NW of Jupiter at 23:00.
16th pm the near full moon lies E of Jupiter at 23:00.
19th am the 97% waning gibbous lies W of Saturn at 00:00.
24th am the 63% waning gibbous lies S of Neptune at 02:00.
28th am the 25% waning crescent lies S of Uranus at 03:00.
The best time to observe meteor showers is when the moon is below the horizon; otherwise its bright glare limits the number you will see especially the fainter ones. Below is a guide to this month's showers.
There are no major meteors showers this month.
There may be additional minor showers this month, details of which can be found in the below Information Sources and Links Section.
There are no bright asteroids at opposition this month.
Finder charts and further information about other fainter asteroids can be found in the below Information Sources and Links Section.
There are no bright comets visible this month.
Finder charts and further information about the above and other fainter comets can be found in the below Information Sources and Links Section. Any of the above estimates are based on current information at the time of writing the guide and can be wrong - “Comets are like cats; they have tails, and they do precisely what they want”, David H Levy.
On the deep sky front this month, galaxies M81 and M82 can be observed in Ursa Major. In Leo, we have several galaxies on view including The Leo Triplet - M65, M66 and NGC 3628. M95, M96 and M105 can also be observed in Leo. The place to really find galaxies is in Virgo. The Virgo Super Cluster can be found here with numerous galaxies on view. Also in Virgo, M104 - the Sombrero Galaxy can be found. In Coma Berenices, there is M64 - the Black-Eye Galaxy. Also check out the constellation Canes Venatici with the globular cluster - M3 and several galaxies including M51 - the Whirlpool Galaxy and M63 - the Sunflower Galaxy. In Hercules, two globular clusters – M92 and the excellent M13 can be observed and in Lyra – M57 – The Ring Nebula can be observed. Also check out Sagittarius, low in the South which contains many messier objects including open clusters M18 and M25, to name but a few.
Always keep an eye out for Aurorae. The night sky does not get fully dark this month. Between mid-May and the early August, Astronomical twilight is present at night. This is when the sun is between twelve and eighteen degrees below the horizon. This time of year is very good for observing the numerous satellites and other objects in orbit above us. The Summer Solstice is on the 21st of the month. This is the day with the greatest number of sunlight hours and after this the daytime gets gradually shorter and the night-time gets gradually longer. It also marks the start of summer.
Watch out for NLCs - Noctilucent Clouds during June. Look to the North-West for a white/silvery glow 1.5 - 2 hours after sunset and to the North-East a similar amount of time before sunrise. They can sometimes be faint, sometimes bright. Other interesting naked eye phenomena to look out for include the Zodiacal Light and the Gegenschein. Both are caused by sunlight reflecting off dust particles which are present in the solar system. Zodiacal Light can be seen in the West after evening twilight has disappeared or in the East before the morning twilight. The best time of year to see the phenomenon is late-Feb to early-April in the evening sky and September/October in the morning sky - it's then that the ecliptic, along which the cone of the zodiacal light lies, is steepest in our skies. The Gegenschein can be seen in the area of the sky opposite the sun. To view either, you must get yourself to a very dark site to cut out the light pollution. When trying to observe either of these phenomena, it is best to do so when the moon is below the horizon. A new appendix has been added explaining some of the more technical terms used in the guide.
The ZHR or Zenithal Hourly Rate is the number of meteors an observer would see in one hour under a clear, dark sky with a limiting apparent magnitude of 6.5 and if the radiant of the shower were in the zenith. The rate that can effectively be seen is nearly always lower and decreases as the radiant is closer to the horizon. The Zenith is the overhead point in the sky.