A monthly look at astronomical events in the sky and on Earth
Compiled by Steve Sawyer
Hi welcome to Junes whatsup. We’re now approaching the summer solstice and although we have no true darkness this month, take the time to enjoy the summer constellations and (hopefully) warmer nights!
So what’s on this month?
As mentioned last month June and July are peak noctilucent cloud months. We also have the summer constellations of Hercules, Scorpius, Lyra, Cygnus and Aquila. Also Venus and Mars encounter the Beehive cluster (M44).
Please feel free to send any images you may like including in next months whatsup to email@example.com or you can post them to the societies Facebook group for posting any images you wish to share Facebook group link : https://www.facebook.com/groups/yorkastro
|2nd||Mars passes M44 (although in twilight)|
|3rd||Moon near Antares|
|10th||Last Quarter Moon|
|13th||Venus near M44|
|14th||Moon near Jupiter (am)|
|17th||Earliest sunrise at 04:38am get up early!|
|21st||Summer Solstice, Moon near Mars and Venus|
|22nd||Moon near Venus, Mars and Regulus|
|23rd||Moon near Regulus|
|26th||First quarter Moon|
|27th||Moon near Spica|
|30th||Moon near Antares|
looking South on the 15th at 22:00
Looking North on the 15th at 22:00
The two charts above show all DSOs of magnitude 6.0 or brighter. They are both taken from
SkyViewCafe.com and correct for the 15th of the month. For a clickable list of Messier objects with images, use the Wikipedia link.
The Belt of Venus
The Belt of Venus, also referred to as the “Anti-Twilight Arch,” is an atmospheric phenomenon observed during twilight hours. It manifests as a distinct pink or reddish band of light visible above the Earth’s shadow on the eastern horizon and has nothing to do with planet Venus. Being named after the Roman goddess Venus magical girdle/belt.
The colours of the Belt of Venus arise from the phenomenon of Rayleigh scattering, which occurs as sunlight interacts with molecules and small particles in the Earth’s atmosphere. As the sun sets below the horizon, sunlight must traverse a larger portion of the Earth’s atmosphere. This path length increases the likelihood of scattering, particularly for shorter wavelengths such as blue and green light.
Because of this, the shorter wavelengths experience a higher degree of scattering, causing the sky near the horizon to assume a bluish-grey tint. In contrast, longer wavelengths, particularly red and orange light, suffer relatively less scattering. This differential scattering results in the emergence of a distinct pink or reddish band of light, situated above the Earth’s shadow.
GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=296394
The Sun is currently very active with over 119 active sunspots. In particular sunspot AR3315 is now both very large being 10 times wider than Earth and dangerous, with a magnetic field strength that has a good chance of sending M-Class (and possibly X-class()) solar flares towards Earth.
Taken by Michael Schmidt on May 28, 2023 @ Austria/EUROPE
The sun spot is crackling with magnetic explosions named Ellerman Bombs. These are solar hydrogen bombs each one having the energy of about 1 millionth of a solar flare but despite that each explosion releases the same energy as about 100,000 World War II atomic bombs.
Link to the original 1917 paper here 1917ApJ….46..298E (u-strasbg.fr)
Despite being observed for over a century, the exact mechanisms behind Ellerman bombs are still not fully understood. They are believed to result from a combination of local magnetic field restructuring, magnetic energy release, and heating of the surrounding plasma in the chromosphere.
Ellerman bombs are often associated with other solar activities, such as flares or coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which are more energetic and longer-lasting phenomena. Researchers study Ellerman bombs to gain insights into the underlying physical processes driving magnetic reconnection and explosive events in the solar atmosphere.
For more info on the sun and solar weather look here : –
And our own Met-office have an excellent space weather forecast page here Space Weather – Met Office
The 6th full Moon of 2023 is the Strawberry Moon, other names are Flower Moon and Planting moon, with another Anglo Saxon name being the Mead moon. Nothing to do with Mead though, the name comes from this being the time of year to mow the mead, or meadows to make hay for the winter.
See the sky diary for this months lunar events
A full lunar calendar can be found here :-
Mainly lost in the Suns glare this month. You may be about to spot the planet around the 15th-18th of June just before sunrise.
Venus once again dominates the evening sky this month and will be visible in the western sky after sunset throughout June. It will be the brightest object in the sky after the moon.
Venus begins the month near Castor and Pollux and then heads towards Mars. On the 13th Venus passes M44 and on the 21st the crescent Moon is close by. Pictures to the Facebook group please 🙂
Mars glows at magnitude +1.6 this month and sets just after midnight. On the 2nd of June Mars passes M44 and on the 22nd is near the crescent Moon
A morning planet and not well placed for stargazing. The planet can be found near the setting Moon on the 14th, the sun will be up but the planet will be visible.
Rising around 1am, but is very low in the sky. The crescent Moon is near the planet on the 14th.
Nothing this month.
No easy to see comets this month, the ones listed below start at mag 8 and go to mag 13.
Deep Sky (DSO’s)
Some DSO’s for you to target this month.
I’m picking some of the sights in Scorpius this month.
In Greek mythology, Scorpius represents the scorpion that killed the great hunter Orion. The scorpion was sent by the goddess Artemis, who felt threatened by Orion’s boasting. Zeus, in order to honour both Orion and the scorpion, placed them in the night sky as constellations, but on opposite sides to ensure their eternal separation.
Scorpius can be found low on the southern horizon and is only visible to our part of the world during the summer months.
Scorpius is known for its bright stars, including Antares, the brightest star in the constellation. Antares is a red supergiant and appears distinctly reddish, hence its name, which means “rival of Mars” due to its colour resembling the planet Mars. Other notable stars in Scorpius include Graffias, Dschubba, and Sargas.
Scorpius hosts several notable deep-sky objects. One of the most famous is the globular cluster Messier 4 (M4), located near the scorpion’s tail. It is one of the closest globular clusters to Earth and contains a dense concentration of ancient stars. Other notable objects in Scorpius include the open clusters NGC 6231 and NGC 6124, and the emission nebulae IC 4628 and IC 4604.
M4 or NGC 6121, is a globular cluster, it was discovered by Philippe Loys de Chéseaux in 1745 and catalogued by Charles Messier in 1764. M4 is one of the closest globular clusters to Earth, at a distance of about 7,200 light-years. It has an apparent magnitude of 5.9 and can be easily seen with a small telescope near the bright star Antares.
M4 contains more than 100,000 stars, some of which are among the oldest in the universe. The cluster has a characteristic bar structure across its core, which consists of faint stars of magnitude 11.
The cluster hosts many variable stars and white dwarfs, and by observing the brightness and temperature of these white dwarfs the age of the cluster can be determined. This is calculated to be around 12.2 billion years. Making M4 one of the oldest objects in the night sky.
IC 4628 is a large emission nebula located in the constellation of Scorpius. It is also known as the Prawn Nebula or Gum 56. It is about 6,000 light-years away from Earth and spans over 250 light-years across. IC 4628 is a region of active star formation, where massive young stars emit intense ultraviolet radiation that ionizes the surrounding gas and makes it glow. The nebula contains several open clusters of stars and dark dust lanes that obscure parts of the nebula.
IC4604 is a reflection nebula in the constellation Ophiuchus, near the bright star Antares. A reflection nebula, shines by reflecting the light of nearby stars. The main star that illuminates IC4604 is Rho Ophiuchi, a triple star system at the centre of the nebula.
You may also notice other nebulae and star clusters in the same area. These are part of the Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complex, a large region of interstellar dust and gas that hosts many young stars and stellar nurseries.
ISS and other orbiting bits
No sightings up to the 13th, check the website listed for sightings after this date . Use the this NASA website for exact timings for York overpasses. York, England, United Kingdom | Sighting Opportunity | Spot The Station | NASA
and of course the sky at night magazine!