What's Up? June 2023

Astronomer and Science Communicator, Ishbel Wright, gives us some hints of tips of what we can expect to see in the skies this June!


What's Up? June 2023 

The Sun

Mostly, the Sun. This month marks the start of Summer and end of astronomical darkness. For astronomical darkness to occur the sun must dip below the horizon by 18 degrees. Throughout June is barely gets to 12 degrees before it starts coming back up again. On June 21st the Summer solstice occurs, which is the longest day of the year. The Sun will be present in the sky for 17 hours and 35 minutes. Whilst being the longest day of the year, it is not actually the earliest sunrise and latest sunset. The earliest the Sun will rise is at 04:26 on the 17th of June and the latest the sun will set is 22:02 on the 25th of June.

Due to the brightness of the sky it will be pretty difficult to spot anything but the brightest objects. Luckily for us Venus, the Brightest planet due to its reflective atmosphere, is reaching its greatest evening elongation on June 4th. This means that it is as far from the sun as it can get before we start to see it orbit back towards the Sun, so it will be really easy to view as it follows the Sun across the Sky and when the Sun sets it will be impossible to miss. Venus is a great telescope target as it has an interesting property. Since it is an interior planet to us it actually has phases just like the moon since we only see it partially illuminated at times. Throughout this month it will be going from a half phase, so a D shape to a crescent. This could even be picked up by a pair of strong binoculars this month.

Just above Venus there is another Planet. Mars is also in the sky, though a lot dimmer. If you keep tracking up from Venus, sitting in the constellation of Gemini. Mars appears as small red dot brighter than its surrounding stars of the constellation of Cancer, which is a very dim constellation.

If you do want to go constellation hunting then I suggest you stick to right above head, see if you can find Draco snaking around the Plough!