Night sky guide for June 2014


Globular clusters M10 and M13 will both be well placed for observation at the beginning of June. The strongest daylight meteor shower – Daytime Arietids – peaks on June 7. Since the radiant will be located only thirty degrees west of the Sun the visual observing conditions will be poor at best. 

Theta Opichiud meteor shower will be possible to observe this month. Its relatively flat maximum of 5 days occurs centered on June 10, its radiant will be opposite the Sun. Another meteor shower, the Opichiud meteor shower, will peak on June 20. Both are weak showers.

June Solstice on June 21 marks the beginning of the summer in Northern Hemisphere, and the beginning of winter in Southern Hemisphere.

  • June 3 – The Hercules globular cluster (M13, NGC 6205) will be well placed for observation, culminating at around midnight local time. Globular clusters are collections of closely packed, gravitationally bound stars. M13 contains about a million stars.

    At magnitude 5.8, M13 is quite faint, and not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope. (ITS)

  • June 4 –  The globular cluster M10 (NGC 6218) in Ophiuchus will be well placed for observation. Quite faint at magnitude 6.7, M10 is also culminating at around midnight local time. (ITS)

  • June 7 – Daytime Arietids. The radiant is located only thirty degrees west of the Sun so visual observing conditions for this display are poor at best. According to AMS, it is an achievement of note just to see one of these meteors just before dawn on early June mornings. On that morning start watching one hour before the start of dawn and look toward the northeast with your center of vision positioned half-way up in the sky. Any Arietids will shoot upwards from the horizon and should last several seconds as they streak a long path through the sky.  Your chances of seeing these meteors are best from the northern tropics, where the longer nights allow the radiant to rise higher into the sky. At 43km/sec. the Daytime Arietids would produce meteors of medium velocity. By the way, this is the strongest daylight shower of the year. If the circumstances were better for this shower (higher radiant in a dark sky), this display would rival the annual Perseids in intensity. (AMS)

  • June 7 – Conjunction of the Moon and Mars. The Moon will pass within two degrees of the the planet Mars in the evening sky. The gibbous moon will be at magnitude -12.2 and Mars will be at magnitude -0.8. Look for both objects high in the eastern sky just after sunset. The pair will be visible in the west later in the evening and will remain visible for about 6 hours after sunset. (SeaSky)

  • June 10 – Theta Ophichiud meteor shower. The duration of this shower extends from May 21 to June 16. A relatively flat maximum of 5 days occurs centered on June 10 (λ=77.8°) from α=265°, δ=-28°, with a ZHR of 10. (More about the shower – MSO

The center of the large Anthelion (ANT) (*direction oposite the Sun) radiant is currently located at 17:36 (264) -23. This position lies in southeastern Ophiuchus, 2 degrees northeast of the 3rd magnitude star known as Kaki (Theta Ophiuchi). These meteors may be seen all night long but the radiant is best placed near 0200 LDT when it lies on the meridian and is positioned highest in the sky. Due to the large radiant area, meteors from this source may also appear to radiant from the constellation of Serpens Cauda, eastern Libra, Scorpius, northeastern Lupus, and western Sagittarius as well as Ophiuchus. Rates at this time should be near 2 per hour as seen from the northern hemisphere and 3 per hour as seen from south of the equator. With an entry velocity of 30 km/sec., the average Anthelion meteor would be of slow velocity. (AMS)

  • June 13 – Full Moon – 04:11 UTC. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Strawberry Moon because it signaled the time of year to gather ripening fruit. It also coincides with the peak of the strawberry harvesting season. This moon has also been known as the Full Rose Moon and the Full Honey Moon.

  • Opichiud meteor shower June 20. The duration of this shower extends between May 19 – July 2, with maximum activity falling on June 20 (λ=88°) from RA=263°, DECL=-20°. The maximum ZHR reaches 6, while the average magnitude of the meteors seems slightly fainter than 3. Less than 5% of the stream's meteors leave persistent trains. 

    This weak shower has been with meteor observers for some time, with published observations appearing nearly every year during the 20th century. The shower's discovery seems attributable to W. F. Denning, who, during June 14 – 20, 1887, plotted 5 very slow and bright meteors coming from RA=268°, DECL=-24°. The first detection of a meteor coming from this radiant seems to have been on June 8, 1841, when a fireball was listed by G. von Niessl as having originated from RA=266°, DECL=-16°.

    Interestingly, the stream seems to produce a large number of bright meteors and fireballs. (More about the shower – MSO)

  • June 21 – June Solstice – 10:51 UTC. The North Pole of the Earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its northernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Cancer at 23.44 degrees north latitude. This is the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the Southern Hemisphere.

  • June 24 – Venus and the very thin crescent Moon make a lovely pair as they rise as they rise together into the brightening eastern sky.

  • June 27 – New Moon – 08:08 UTC. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

Video courtesy of Hubble Space Telescope

Featured image: TW / SolarSystemScope

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