A monthly look at astronomical events in the sky and on Earth
Space news – stop press
Elon Musk’s attempt to ferry two astronauts to the ISS has been successful! The first attempt was halted after poor weather, but the second on Saturday was a success. Observers in the UK could see the shuttle playing tag with the ISS as it went overhead later in the evening. After 19 hours in space the Endeavour capsule docked with the ISS on Sunday. Thus opens a new era in manned space exploration. See Space.com for up-to-date news.
What you can see in June
I’m afraid this is a very thin What’s Up because as we all obviously know, June is the month that includes the summer solstice so has the shortest and lightest nights. In fact, on the 21st at 0100, the sun is only 12½° below the northern horizon. It really isn’t worth trying to see anything other than the Moon and planets and the brightest of deep sky objects. But if you’re out camping in the wilds, it’s a great opportunity to just lie back and take in the beautiful summer stars.
The Great Bear isn’t far from overhead and the summer triangle (Altair, Vega and Deneb) is coming up in the east. The milky way stretches from Scorpio down in the south through the beautiful star fields in Cygnus up to the “W” of Cassiopeia. You’ll also see Jupiter and Saturn lurking low in the south east after midnight.
Best seen as a waxing crescent in the first few days of the month then again in the last week. It’s not well placed though, as the ecliptic runs southwards from the Sun so the moon is lower in the sky than normal.
You may just spot Mercury low in the WNW after sunset for the first few days of the month. It’s at azimuth 300 and altitude 10° at about 10pm. It’s only at magnitude 0.2 so pretty difficult to find in the sunset glow.
I’m afraid Venus has gone from view now. It reaches inferior conjunction (between us and the Sun) on the 3rd.
Mars is a difficult morning object. Forget it for now.
Jupiter and Saturn
Both these planets reach opposition in July. They are both very low in the SSE late at night at the moment. It would be better to wait until July (and later) to observe them.
Non-Solar System Objects
Passes of the International Space Station (ISS)
This is not visible at all during June. For future reference, all its passes are shown on this web site.
Clear skies and good viewing.
John Rowland 28 May 2020