Eyes on the Night Sky – June 2022

Welcome to the midsummer edition of Eyes on the Night Sky. Already we have reached the month that contains the shortest night of the year; the Summer Solstice falling on June 21st. The nights will be too light to see galaxies and nebulae at their best but there are plenty of other night sky treasures to discover.

Noctilucent Clouds

Noctilucent cloud season is in full swing this month so make sure you get the opportunity to see these ‘night shining clouds’ which emerge a couple of hours after sunset and before sunrise. Forecasting them isn’t easy and it can be frustrating to stay up late only to see nothing but Netweather.tv provides some excellent advice to study available data to increase your chances of seeing them when they occur. These wonderful clouds, situated 200,000 feet above us, slowly change and alter structure over time, retreat and expand right before your eyes.

Noctilucent clouds can also look wonderful through binoculars – if you have them to hand, take a look at the fine structure.

A Double Star

Our favourite double star is Albireo in the constellation of Cygnus. Its proper designation is Beta Cygni and is simply gorgeous to look at.

 

Appearing as a dim star to the unaided eye at the head of Cygnus the Swan, a small telescope will split the star into two, one blue (Beta Cygni B) and the other, a deep yellow (Beta Cygni A). The yellow star, being a red supergiant is thought to have an additional companion star.

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The Moon

June is a great time to study lunar features due to the lighter nights. There are a few interesting geological features to spot along the Moon’s terminator, the area between the night and day side of the Moon. From the Moon’s perspective, the rising and setting of the sun along the Moon’s surface casts long shadows of mountain features or edges of craters (or Clair Obscur, French for bright and dark). Get your telescopes out and take a look at some interesting features to watch out for below:

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Lunar X

Normally seen: during first quarter Moon

Best time to see it: 7th June when darkness falls

Lunar V

Normally seen: during first quarter Moon

Best time to see it: 7th June when darkness falls

Face in Albategnius

Normally seen:  during first quarter Moon

Best time to see it: 6th and 7th June

Jewelled Handle

Normally seen:  during first quarter Moon

Best time to see it: 9th and 10th June

The Full Moon falls on 14th June and the New Moon is on 29th June.

The Planets

Mercury is best seen at the end of the month, rising in the east at 4am, about an hour before sunrise.

Venus rises at 4am at the start of the month and 3.15am at the end.

Mars rises at 3am at the start of the month and at 1.40am at the end.

Jupiter rises at 2.50am the start of the month 1am at the end.

Saturn rises 1.50am at at the start of the month and 11.50pm at the end.

Between 18th June and 27th June, early risers will be able to see a spectacular planetary alignment, from our perspective. Five planets can be spotted from the eastern horizon, right through to the southern horizon, where the Moon will also play its part. Uranus is also in alignment but the gas giant is too far away to be seen with the unaided eye.

To help get started finding the planets, try to get out at 3am when it is darker – you will be able to track and study each one and the five-planet alignment is complete when Mercury rises at 4am.  Generally, planetary observation is better in the early hours of the morning due to the heat of the day fully dissipating from the earth; the atmosphere is stilled, which allows for detailed magnified views

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Dark Skies Photo Feed

We would love all of our visitors to share their experiences and photos of the dark skies. Share your images with us on instagram using the hashtag #CambrianMountainsDarkSkies and add to our image feed that you see below.