The Sky at Night in Downton

Local resident, Michael F Barratt is a Member of the British Astronomical Association and a Council Member of the Society for Popular Astronomy.  He is also a member of the Fordingbridge Astronomers in Hampshire and has his own Facebook Page – Moot Halt Observatory.  Here he tells us what to look for in the summer night skies over Downton.  Michael says, “The idea is to whet peoples' appetites for the wonders of the night sky in easy terms (not too much scientific jargon) which, in turn, will hopefully also educate people about the downsides of light pollution too.  We are fortunate that in and around Downton we live in a "Bortle 3.5 - 4" area on the scale of light pollution where "1" would be the middle of the Atacara Desert in South America and "9" would be standing in the middle of Piccadilly, London.  So we are definitely in the darker skies area with Cranborne Chase close by and designed a Dark Skies Reserve.”

Michael can be contacted at and is always pleased to hear from others with their observations and queries.

What to look for in June

The Tau Herculid meteor shower (in the early morning of June 1) should treat us to a good show this year, with the Moon out of the way.


Do keep a look out for noctilucent clouds, those spooky clouds which glow blue-white high in the northern sky. They are formed of ice crystals which attach to small dust particles high up in our atmosphere. 


There are no planets in the evening sky this month as Mercury moves into the morning sky.  Venus will be brilliant in the morning sky, and Mars becoming brighter.  Jupiter and Saturn can also be seen in the morning.


The Moon is at First Quarter on Tuesday 7 June, waxing to Full Moon (known this month as a “Strawberry Moon”) on Tuesday 14 after which it will begin waning becoming Last Quarter on Tuesday 21 June and New Moon on Wednesday 29 June.  

Map of the night sky in mid-June 2022 (around 2300 BST)