ASTRONOMY GUIDE TO THE NIGHT SKY – June 2022

Astronomy

ASTRONOMY GUIDE TO THE NIGHT SKY – June 2022

With the Newbury Astronomical Society

The chart above shows the night sky at 22:00 on 15th June 2022

Click on the chart to enlarge and click to the side of the chart to close

The chart above shows the night sky looking south at about 22:00 BST on 15th June.  West is to the right and east to the left.  The point in the sky directly overhead is known as the Zenith and is shown (in red) at the upper centre of the chart.  The curved brown line across the sky at the bottom is the Ecliptic or Zodiac.  This is the imaginary line along which the Sun, Moon and planets appear to move across the sky.  The brightest stars often appear to form a group or recognisable pattern; we call these ‘Constellations’.

Constellations through which the ecliptic passes this month are Gemini (the Twins), Cancer (the Crab), Leo (the Lion), Virgo (the Virgin), Libra (the Scales), Scorpio (the Scorpion) and Sagittarius (the Archer) just coming into view in the east.

The constellation of Gemini (the Twins) is moving over the western horizon.  The two brightest stars in Gemini are Castor and Pollux that are named after mythological twins.  Auriga (the Charioteer) is also moving west.  The brightest star in Auriga is the brilliant white star Capella which is still visible in the west in the early evening.

To the east (left) of Gemini is the rather indistinct constellation of Cancer (the Crab).  The stars of Cancer are quite faint and can be difficult to discern especially in a light polluted sky.  It is worth searching out Cancer using binoculars or a small telescope to see the Open Cluster M44 Praesepe (the Beehive Cluster).  M44 is older and further away than M45 (the Seven Sisters) so is fainter but still looks lovely.  It has a group of stars that resemble an old straw Beehive with bees around it.

The constellation of Leo (the Lion) follows Cancer along the Ecliptic and is a very interesting constellation.  It does actually look a little like a lion or the Sphinx in Egypt.  Around and between Leo and the neighboring constellation of Virgo is a cluster of galaxies.  Our Milky Way galaxy and our local group of galaxies are members of this larger group of galaxies called the Virgo Cluster.  A medium sized telescope (150mm to 200mm) and a dark sky is required to see these faint objects.

Following Leo is the less obvious constellation of Virgo but it does have one fairly bright star called Spica.  Virgo gives its name to a large cluster of Galaxies that is also spread over into the neighbouring constellations of Coma Berenices (Berenices’ Hair) and into Leo.

To the north of Virgo is the bright orange coloured star called Arcturus in the constellation of Boötes.  Arctaurus is a Red Giant star that is nearing the end of its ‘life’ as a normal star.  It has used almost all of its Hydrogen fuel and has expanded to become a Red Giant, 25 times the diameter of our Sun.  At the moment it shines 115 times brighter than our Sun but it is destined to collapse and become a White Dwarf.

Higher in the south east is the constellation of Hercules (the Strong Man).  Hercules has a rather distinctive distorted square shape, at its centre, called the ‘Keystone’.  This is due to its resemblance to the centre stone of an arch or bridge.  The jewel of Hercules is without doubt is the Great Globular Cluster, Messier 13 (M13).  M13 can be found in the western (right) vertical imaginary line of the ‘Keystone’.  It is just visible using a good pair of 9 x 50 binoculars.  The spherical cluster, of about a million stars that can be seen using a 90mm f10 telescope but will look even more impressive when using a larger telescope.

Just moving into the eastern sky is the Summer Triangle that will begin to dominate the Summer Sky.

WHERE TO FIND THE PLANETS THIS MONTH

All the planets, except Uranus and Mercury are in the early morning eastern sky.

Mercury will be at its greatest westerly elongation on 16th June.

Venus is moving back towards the Sun so it will appear to be getting smaller and will appear as a widening from crescent to its gibbous phase.

Mars is still on the other side of the Sun (so appears very small) and still appears close to the Sun so will be quite difficult to see.  Mars rises at about 02:00 over 2 hours before the Sun.

Jupiter rises over the eastern horizon at about 01:30.  It is bright and observable but is low over the eastern horizon before sunrise.  The cloud markings will just be visible on its shimmering disc in the turbulent air.

Saturn will be very low over the eastern horizon in the brightening sky and difficult to see but will be moving into the evening sky later in the summer.

Uranus rises at about 03:00 in the early morning sky just before the Sun.  Uranus will be close to Venus on 12th June so will be a little easier to find.

Neptune rises at about 01:30 so will be in the sky three hours before sunrise.  It will still be difficult to see in the bright midsummer sky.

Follow this link to see the full ‘Monthly What’s Up’ guide to the night sky:

http://naasbeginners.co.uk/Whats_up/2021_2022/June2022.htm

To see a full version of this article and a guide to the night sky with charts, read the Newbury Astronomical Society (NAS) – Monthly Magazines for Beginners on the Beginners website at: www.naasbeginners.co.uk.

The next Meeting of the Newbury Astronomical Society – Beginners Section will be a ‘face to face’ meeting at Stockcross Village Hall on Wednesday 15th June starting at 19:00 until 21:00.

However virtual meetings will relayed on-line using Zoom.  Please check on the Beginners website above for the latest information.

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