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Night sky in summer

Night sky in summer

What to look for

Local astronomer, Michael Barratt, tells you what to look out for in the next few weeks.  


At this time of year, even in the middle of the night the Sun never gets far enough below the horizon for the sky to get properly dark and the fainter stars shown on the accompanying map will be hard to see.

The full Moon in June, known as a “Strawberry Moon”, is  on Saturday 22. Six days before this,  on 16 June, the Moon will be very close to the bright blue star Spica in the constellation of Virgo (the Virgin).

Saturn is the only planet this month which will be readily found.  It rises in the north-east at around 0100 hours. It can be found in the constellation of Aquarius (the Water Carrier) with the Moon “meeting” it on the mornings of 27 and 28 June. The famous ring system is currently closing up as seen from Earth , but this means that more of the planet’s main surface can be seen, without the shadow of the rings.  Saturn’s moons will also be seen in a straighter line than normal.

Mars is returning to the night skies.  If you have not seen this planet before it can be easily found on 3 June when it will be just to the right of the thin waning crescent Moon.  During this month Mars will also move from the constellation of Pisces (the Twin Fishes) into Aries (the Ram) to join Uranus.

June is a good time to observe the Milky Way, as it extends across the sky from Cygnus (the Swan) down towards its core in the constellation of Sagittarius (the Archer). Sweeping along the line of our own Galaxy with binoculars will reveal a myriad of stars far too many to count.

Follow Michael on Facebook at Moot Halt Observatory or log on to The Society for Popular Astronomy for updates. You can also email him at mootastro@yahoo.com with your own queries or observations.

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