Night sky guide for June 2017

Night sky guide for June 2017

Although meteorologists often take summer/winter to start on June 1, northern hemisphere's summer and southern hemisphere's winter will officially begin on June 21 with June Solstice at 04:15 UTC.

The Moon will reach its full phase at 13:11 UTC on June 9. 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. This moon has also been known as the Full Rose Moon and the Full Honey Moon.

The Moon will be located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky - New Moon - on June 24. 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.

  • June 1 - M13 well placed for observation. The Hercules globular cluster (M13, NGC 6205) will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +36°28', it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 33°S. At magnitude 5.9, M13 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

  • June 1 - Moon at First Quarter - 12:43 UTC. The Moon will be prominent in the evening sky, setting around midnight. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, it appears almost exactly half illuminated.

  • June 2 - Conjunction of Venus and Uranus - 14:44 UTC. Venus and Uranus will share the same right ascension, with Venus passing 1°46' to the south of Uranus. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. Venus will be at mag -4.3, and Uranus at mag 5.9, both in the constellation Pisces. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

  • June 3 - M12 well placed for observations. The globular cluster M12 (NGC 6218) in Ophiuchus will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -01°57', it is visible across much of the world; it can be seen at latitudes between 68°N and 71°S. At magnitude 6.6, M12 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

  • June 3 - Close approach of Venus and Uranus - 05:11 UTC. Venus and Uranus will make a close approach, passing within 1°41' of each other. Venus will be at mag -4.3, and Uranus at mag 5.9, both in the constellation Pisces. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible through a pair of binoculars. At around the same time, the two objects will also share the same right ascension – called a conjunction.

  • June 3 - Venus at greatest elongation west - 05:58 UTC. Venus will be well placed for observation in the dawn sky, shining brightly at mag -4.3. Venus's orbit lies closer to the Sun than the Earth's, meaning that it always appears close to the Sun and is very difficult to observe most of the time. It is observable only for a few weeks each time it reaches greatest separation from the Sun – moments referred to as greatest elongation. On these occasions, however, Venus is so bright and conspicuous that it becomes the third brightest object in the sky after the Sun and Moon. It is often called the morning or evening star. These apparitions take place alternately in the morning and evening skies, depending whether Venus lies to the east of the Sun or to the west. When it lies to the east, it rises and sets a short time after the Sun and is visible in early evening twilight. When it lies to the west of the Sun, it rises and sets a short time before the Sun and is visible shortly before sunrise. On this occasion, it lies 45° to the Sun's west.

  • June 3 - Conjunction of Venus and Eris - 18:36 UTC. Venus and 136199 Eris will share the same right ascension, with Venus passing 10°35' to the north of 136199 Eris. Venus will be at mag -4.3 in the constellation Pisces, and 136199 Eris at mag 18.8 in the neighboring constellation of Cetus.

  • June 4 - Close approach of the Moon and Jupiter - 01:29 UTC. The Moon and Jupiter will make a close approach, passing within 2°11' of each other. The Moon will be 10 days old. The Moon will be at mag -12.2, and Jupiter at mag -2.2, both in the constellation Virgo. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

  • June 4 - Conjunction of the Moon and Makemake - 02:15 UTC. The Moon and 136472 Makemake will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 27°13' to the south of 136472 Makemake. The Moon will be 10 days old. The Moon will be at mag -12.2 in the constellation Virgo, and 136472 Makemake at mag 17.0 in the neighboring constellation of Coma Berenices.

  • June 4 - Venus at dichotomy - 06:00 UTC. Venus will be well placed for observation in the dawn sky, shining brightly at mag -4.3. Venus's orbit lies closer to the Sun than the Earth's, meaning that it always appears close to the Sun and is very difficult to observe most of the time. It is observable only for a few weeks each time it reaches greatest separation from the Sun – moments referred to as greatest elongation. On these occasions, however, Venus is so bright and conspicuous that it becomes the third brightest object in the sky after the Sun and Moon. It is often called the morning or evening star.

  • June 5 - M10 well placed for observation. The globular cluster M10 (NGC 6254) in Ophiuchus will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -04°05', it is visible across much of the world; it can be seen at latitudes between 65°N and 74°S. At magnitude 6.6, M10 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

  • June 5 - C/2015 V2 (Johnson) reaches its brightest. Comet C/2015 V2 (Johnson) is forecast to reach its brightest, at around mag 7.1. It will lie at a distance of 1.65 AU from the Sun, and at a distance of 0.82 AUfrom the Earth.

  • June 5 - Conjunction of the Moon and Haumea - 15:27 UTC. The Moon and 136108 Haumea will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 25°23' to the south of 136108 Haumea. The Moon will be 11 days old. The Moon will be at mag -12.4 in the constellation Virgo, and 136108 Haumea at mag 17.4 in the neighboring constellation of Bootes.

  • June 9 - Full Moon. The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. 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.

Downtown Los Angeles under the full moon

Downtown Los Angeles under the full moon. Credit: Arman Thanvir

  • June 6 - M62 well placed for observation. Across much of the world the globular cluster M62 (NGC 6266) in Ophiuchus will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -30°07', it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much north of 39°N. At magnitude 6.6, M62 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

  • June 6 - 1 Ceres at solar conjunction - 01:27 UTC. 1 Ceres will pass very close to the Sun in the sky as its orbit carries it around the far side of the solar system from the Earth. At closest approach, 1 Ceres will appear at a separation of only 0°40' from the Sun, making it totally unobservable for several weeks while it is lost in the Sun's glare. At around the same time, 1 Ceres will also be at its most distant from the Earth – receding to a distance of 3.72 AU – since the two planets will lie on opposite sides of the solar system. If 1 Ceres could be observed at this time, it would appear at its smallest and faintest on account of its large distance. It would measure 0.0 arcsec in diameter. Over following weeks and months, 1 Ceres will re-emerge to the west of the Sun, gradually becoming visible for ever-longer periods in the pre-dawn sky. After around six months, it will reach opposition, when it will be visible for virtually the whole night.

  • June 9 - Full Moon - 13:11 UTC. The Moon will reach full phase. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, the Moon lies almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky, placing it high above the horizon for much of the night. The sequence of full moons through the year are often assigned names according to the seasons in which they fall. This month's will be the third to fall in spring 2017 – the Flower Moon. Over the nights following June 9, the Moon will rise around an hour later each day, becoming prominent later in the night. Within a few days, it will only be visible in the pre-dawn and early-morning sky. By the time it reaches last quarter, a week after full moon, it will rise at around midnight and set at around noon. At the exact moment when the Moon reaches full phase, it will lie at a declination of -18°18' in the constellation Ophiuchus, and so will appear highest in the southern hemisphere. It will be visible from all latitudes north of 61°N. Its distance from the Earth will be 406 000 km (252 276 miles).

  • June 10 - M92 well placed for observation. The globular cluster M92 (NGC 6341) in Hercules will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +43°07', it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 26°S. At magnitude 6.5, M92 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

Messier 92, one of the brightest globular clusters in the Milky Way

Messier 92, one of the brightest globular clusters in the Milky Way. Credit: ESA/Hubble

  • June 10 - Close approach of the Moon and Saturn - 01:34 UTC. The Moon and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 3°04' of each other. The Moon will be 16 days old. The Moon will be at mag -12.5, and Saturn at mag 0.0, both in the constellation Ophiuchus. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

  • June 12 - C/2015 V2 (Johnson) at perihelion. Comet C/2015 V2 (Johnson) will make its closest approach to the Sun, at a distance of 1.64 AU.

  • June 12 - Conjunction of the Moon and Pluto - 01:59 UTC. The Moon and 134340 Pluto will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 2°16' to the north of 134340 Pluto. The Moon will be 18 days old. The Moon will be at mag -12.4, and 134340 Pluto at mag 14.9, both in the constellation Sagittarius. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

  • June 14 - 71P/Clark reaches its brightest. Comet 71P/Clark is forecast to reach its brightest, at around mag 11.4. It will lie at a distance of 1.60 AU from the Sun, and at a distance of 0.60 AU from the Earth.

  • June 15 - NGC 6388 well placed for observation. Across much of the world, the globular cluster NGC 6388 in Scorpius will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -44°43', it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much north of 25°N. At magnitude 6.9, NGC6388 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

  • June 15 - Saturn at opposition - 10:05 UTC. The ringed planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. This is the best time to view and photograph Saturn and its moons. A medium-sized or larger telescope will allow you to see Saturn's rings and a few of its brightest moons. The planet will be in the constellation Ophiuchus and visible for much of the night, reaching its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time.

View of Earth from Saturn

View of Earth from Saturn. Credit: NASA/Goddard

  • June 16 - M6 well placed for observation. The butterfly open star cluster (M6, NGC 6405) in Scorpius will be well placed for observation across much of the world. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -32°13', it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much north of 37°N. At magnitude 4.2, M6 is tricky to make out with the naked eye except from a dark site, but is visible through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

  • June 16 - NGC 6397. Across much of the world the globular cluster NGC 6397 in Ara will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -53°40', it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much north of 16°N. At magnitude 5.7, NGC6397 is too faint to be seen with the naked eye from any but the very darkest sites, but is visible through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

  • June 16 - Close approach of the Moon and Neptune - 13:04 UTC. The Moon and Neptune will make a close approach, passing within 0°41' of each other. The Moon will be 22 days old. The Moon will be at mag -12.0, and Neptune at mag 7.9, both in the constellation Aquarius. The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

  • June 16 - Conjunction of Mercury and Ceres - 21:59 UTC. Mercury and 1 Ceres will share the same right ascension, with Mercury passing 0°43' to the north of 1 Ceres. Mercury will be at mag -1.8, and 1 Ceres at mag 8.6, both in the constellation Taurus. The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

  • June 17 - Moon at last quarter - 11:34 UTC. The Moon will be prominent in the night sky, rising at around midnight. Over coming days, it will rise later each day, so that it is visible for less time before sunrise and it less far above the eastern horizon before dawn. By the time it reaches new moon, it will rise at around dawn and set at around dusk, making it visible only during the daytime.

  • June 18 - IC4665 well placed for observation. The open star cluster IC 4665 in Ophiuchus will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +05°43', it is visible across much of the world; it can be seen at latitudes between 75°N and 64°S. At magnitude 4.2, IC4665 is tricky to make out with the naked eye except from a dark site, but is visible through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

  • June 19 - Conjunction of the Moon and Eris - 16:33 UTC. The Moon and 136199 Eris will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 8°17' to the north of 136199 Eris. The Moon will be 25 days old. The Moon will be at mag -11.3 in the constellation Pisces, and 136199 Eris at mag 18.8 in the neighboring constellation of Cetus.

  • June 20 - M7 well placed for observation. Across much of the world, the Ptolemy cluster (M7, NGC 6475) in Scorpius will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -34°49', it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much north of 35°N. At magnitude 3.3, M7 is tricky to make out with the naked eye except from a dark site, but is visible through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

  • June 20 - Conjunction of the Moon and Venus - 21:13 UTC. The Moon and Venus will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 2°22' to the south of Venus. The Moon will be 26 days old. At around the same time, the two objects will also make a close approach, technically called an appulse. The Moon will be at mag -10.7, and Venus at mag -4.2, both in the constellation Aries. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

  • June 21 - Close approach of the Moon and Venus - 22:21 UTC. The Moon and Venus will make a close approach, passing within 2°16' of each other. The Moon will be 26 days old. The Moon will be at mag -10.7, and Venus at mag -4.2, both in the constellation Aries. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars. At around the same time, the two objects will also share the same right ascension – called a conjunction.

Moon-Venus conjunction February 27, 2009

Moon-Venus conjunction on February 27, 2009. Credit: Jonathan Sabin

  • June 21 - June Solstice - 04:15 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, although meteorologists often take summer to start on June 1, and the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the southern hemisphere.

  • June 21 - Mercury at greatest brightness - 10:36 UTC. In the southern hemisphere, Mercury will be well placed for observation in the dawn sky, shining brightly at mag -2.4. Mercury's orbit lies closer to the Sun than the Earth's, meaning that it always appears close to the Sun and is very difficult to observe most of the time. It is observable only for a few days each time it reaches greatest separation from the Sun – moments referred to as greatest elongation.

  • June 21 - Mercury at superior solar conjunction - 14:02 UTC. Mercury will pass very close to the Sun in the sky as its orbit carries it around the far side of the solar system from the Earth. This occurs once in every synodic cycle of the planet (116 days), and marks the end of Mercury's apparition in the morning sky and its transition to become an evening object over the next few weeks. At closest approach, Mercury will appear at a separation of only 1°05' from the Sun, making it totally unobservable for several weeks while it is lost in the Sun's glare. Mercury will also pass apogee – the time when it is most distant from the Earth – at around the same time, since it will lie exactly opposite to the Earth in the Solar System. It will move to a distance of 1.32 AU from the Earth, making it appear small and very distant. If it could be observed, it would measure 5.1 arcsec in diameter, whilst appearing completely illuminated.

  • June 22 - NGC 6530 well placed for observation. The open star cluster NGC 6530, close to the lagoon nebula (M8) in Sagittarius will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -24°19', it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much north of 45°N. At magnitude 4.6, NGC6530 is too faint to be seen with the naked eye from any but the very darkest sites, but is visible through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

  • June 23 - NGC 6541 well placed for observation. Across much of the world, the globular cluster NGC 6541 in Corona Australis will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -43°42', it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much north of 26°N. At magnitude 6.6, NGC6541 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

  • June 23 - Conjunction of the Moon and Ceres - 10:31 UTC. The Moon and 1 Ceres will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 4°23' to the south of 1 Ceres. The Moon will be 29 days old. The Moon will be at mag -7.6, and 1 Ceres at mag 8.7, both in the constellation Taurus. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

  • June 24 - New Moon - 02:32 UTC. The Moon will be located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. 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. At new moon, the Earth, Moon and Sun all lie in a roughly straight line, with the Moon in the middle, appearing in front of the Sun's glare. In this configuration, we see almost exactly the opposite half of the Moon to that which is illuminated by the Sun, making it doubly unobservable because the side we see is unilluminated. Over coming days, the Moon will rise and set an hour later each day, becoming visible in the late afternoon and dusk sky as a waxing crescent which sets soon after the Sun. By first quarter, in a week's time, it will be visible until around midnight.

  • June 24 - Conjunction of the Moon and Mercury - 08:43 UTC. The Moon and Mercury will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 5°16' to the south of Mercury. The Moon will be 0 days old. The Moon will be at mag -6.1, and Mercury at mag -2.0, both in the constellation Gemini. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope or pair of binoculars but will be visible to the naked eye.

  • June 28 - NGC 6633 well placed for observation. The open star cluster NGC 6633 in Ophiuchus will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +06°34', it is visible across much of the world; it can be seen at latitudes between 76°N and 63°S. At magnitude 4.6, NGC6633 is too faint to be seen with the naked eye from any but the very darkest sites, but is visible through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

  • June 28 - Conjunction of Mercury and Mars - 18:13 UTC. Mercury and Mars will share the same right ascension, with Mercury passing 0°46' to the north of Mars. Mercury will be at mag -1.4, and Mars at mag 1.7, both in the constellation Gemini. The pair will be a little too widely separated to fit comfortably within the field of view of a telescope but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

  • June 30 - M22 well placed for observation. Across much of the world the globular cluster M22 in Sagittarius, near the Galactic center will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of -23°54', it is easiest to see from the southern hemisphere but cannot be seen from latitudes much north of 46°N. At magnitude 5.1, M22 is too faint to be seen with the naked eye from any but the very darkest sites, but is visible through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.

Video courtesy Hubble Space Telescope

Sources: Dominic Ford, NASA

Featured image credit: Solar System Scope. Edit: TW

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