By Duncan Lunan
The Moon will be New on June 3rd and Full on June 17th. This year the summer solstice falls on June 21st.
June and July are the best times to watch for the strange phenomenon of noctilucent clouds in the northern sky after dark, because the atmosphere is still sunlit at high altitudes – ‘astronomical twilight’ lasts all night in Scotland at this time of year.
The planet Mercury is low in the evening sky after sunset, in conjunction with Mars on the 18th, but they will be hard to see from Scotland due to our latitude and the time of year. Mercury is at greatest elongation from the Sun on the 24th but getting still lower in the sky by the end of the month.
Venus rises about 4.00 a.m., shortly before sunrise, visible only briefly before daylight – again, probably not in Scotland. The waning Moon is near Venus on the 1st.
Mars in Gemini sets about 11 p.m., in conjunction with Mercury on the 18th, but very low and hard to see. The Moon is near Mercury and Mars on the 4th and 5th, respectively.
Jupiter in Ophiucus is at opposition on June 10th, due south at 1 a.m. (midnight GMT), although this year it’s at its closest to Earth on the 12th. Jupiter is near the Moon on the 16th. All four of Jupiter’s large moons are grouped to the east (left) of the planet on June 3rd and to the west on June 27th. Ganymede and Io cross Jupiter’s disc, preceded by their shadows, on the night of 4/5th June, and are in transit again, followed by their shadows after opposition, on June 13/14th.
Saturn in Sagittarius rises about 11 p.m., moving westward towards opposition in July. Saturn is near the Moon on the 18th and 19th.
Uranus is in Aries, rising about 2.30 a.m..
Neptune in Aquarius rises about 1 a.m., at its stationary point on June 22nd before opposition in September.
The next meeting of the Astronomers of the Future Club will be on Thursday June 27th, from 19:15 to 21:00 hrs at the RSAS Barassie Works Club, 4 Shore Road, Troon, KA10 6AG. The speaker will be Chris O’Kane of the Astronomical Society of Glasgow, with “Memories of Apollo”, anticipating the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing next month. For more details, contact Alan Martin on 07947 331632.
“Starfield, science fiction by Scottish writers”, edited by Duncan Lunan, is available from the publishers at https://www.shorelineofinfinity.com/product/starfield. Duncan’s recent books “Children from the Sky”, “The Stones and the Stars”, “Incoming Asteroid!” and “The Elements of Time” are available from the publishers, on Amazon or through booksellers; details are on Duncan’s website, www.duncanlunan.com.