The night sky in June 2015

posted 3 Jun 2015, 12:22 by Pete Collins
by Anne Holt

Sunset -  June 1st   21.27,   June 30th  21.42

There isn't really much night sky this month - the longest day (or shortest night, if you prefer) is on June  21st, when the sun sets at 21.42.

Highlight of the month

Look out for Venus and Jupiter getting steadily closer together in the west after sunset during June - Venus is the brighter of the two planets, lower down and to the right of Jupiter. They start the month 25 degrees apart, but by 30 June they are only a third of a degree apart. On 18, 19 and 20 June Venus and Jupiter are joined by the young crescent Moon, as in this Stellarium screenshot for 20 June -




Constellations

The Plough asterism in Ursa Major is still prominent, being overhead for much of the night, leaving Cassiopeia on the opposite side of the Pole Star, low in the northern sky.
The Summer Triangle, consisting of Vega, Deneb and Altair, is now getting higher though Altair, in Aquila, is still quite low in the early part of the night.  The beautiful double star Albireo, at the head of Cygnus the swan, is very well placed for observing.
The bright orange red Arcturus is shining brightly in the SW and, if you manage to find some dark skies not obscured by cloud, you should be able to see the rest of the kite shaped Bootes, with the semicircle of stars forming Corona Borealis just to the east of it.
Another red giant, Antares in Scorpio is now visible just above the southern  horizon. 

Planets

Venus is still shining brightly in the west after sunset.  It reaches greatest eastern elongation on 6th, when it will be at mag -4.4.  In early June it sets around 4 1/2 hours after the sun but this reduces rapidly during the month, to only 2 hours after sunset by month end.
As described above, the apparent gap between Venus and Jupiter is still closing.  On 30th they will be only 22 arcminutes (about 2/3 of the diameter of the moon) apart.  The pair will be visible low in the western sky from sunset until around 11.30 - weather permitting, of course.

Jupiter:   in Cancer, moving into Leo,  mag -0.7
Past its best for observing now, as it is much lower in the sky as it gets dark.  By month end it will set only 2 hours after the sun.

Saturn:  in Libra,  mag 0.3.
Visible low in the south east at the start of the night, setting around dawn.  It is still very low in the sky, 19 degrees at its highest point.  The rings are now tilted by 24 degrees - almost the maximum - making them well worth seeing through a telescope.

Neptune:  in Aquarius, mag 7.9.
Telescopic object, rising around 1am by month end, but remaining very low in the southern sky.

Uranus:  in Aquarius, mag 5.9
Very poorly placed, but starting to  improve.  By late June it will be rising soon after 2am.
On June 11th it will be occulted by the moon - if you happen to be observing in Australia,

Mercury is a morning object throughout June but is very low in the dawn sky. Even at greatest western elongation on 24th it will be lost in the brightening sky.

Mars is not visible this month

Meteor showers

No major meteor showers this month but there are several very minor showers,  which usually produce only a very few faint meteors.  However, you never know when they will put on a good display so it might be worth looking out around the following dates. 
3rd:  Tau Herculids
5th:  Scorpids (radiant near Corona Borealis)
7th:  Arieds
13th:  Ophiuchids (radiant near Scorpio)
16th:  June Lyrids
20th:  Ophiuchids  (radiant near Sagittarius)
27th:  June Bootids
30th:  Draconids (radiant near the Plough handle)
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