By Duncan Lunan
The Moon will be Full on June 5th, with a faint penumbral lunar eclipse, and it will be New on June 21st, on which there will be an annular solar eclipse, visible from central Africa, northern India and China.
The summer solstice is on June 20th and the Sighthill stone circle – the first astronomically aligned one for over 3000 years, which I built for Glasgow Parks Department in 1979 – was to have been opened to the public at its new site, at the eastern end of the former Sighthill Park, overlooking Pinkston Road. But that was dependent on the access road being open by that time, and all work on the site has been stopped due to the coronavirus restrictions.
Early in June the planet Mercury sets in the evening sky around 11 p.m., reaching greatest elongation from the Sun on June 4th and disappearing by mid-month.
Venus passes inferior conjunction on this side of the Sun on June 3rd and reappears in the morning sky in mid-June, rising at 3 a.m. by the end of the month. On the morning of June 19th Venus will appear near the Moon, and will pass behind it in daylight between 8.40 and 9.40 a.m.. As both will be fairly near the Sun, be sure to stay focused on the Moon if watching through a telescope or binoculars. By the end of June Venus rises at 3 a.m..
Mars is in Capricornus and rises about 1.30 a.m. in June as it moves into Pisces, 1.5 degrees below Neptune on the 13th and 14th. The Moon is near Mars on June 12th.
In June Jupiter rises about 11 p.m. in Sagittarius, 20 minutes before Saturn in Capricornus. The crescent Moon is near both of them on June 8th to 9th.
Saturn is close to Jupiter throughout, as above.
Uranus reappears in Aries about 2.30 a.m. in late June, after its superior conjunction on the far side of the Sun in March. The Moon appears near Uranus on June 17th.
Neptune in Aquarius rises about 1 a.m. in June, 1.5 degrees above Mars on the 13th and 14th. Neptune comes to its ‘stationary point’, when its motion against the stars appears to pause, on June 23rd. For the rest of the year it will move ‘retrograde’, from east to west, as the Earth moves past it around the Sun.
June has no meteor showers, but twilight persists throughout the night here in Scotland during June and July in any case. This provides a good opportunity to look for mysterious noctilucent clouds in the north, floating high in the atmosphere and lit by sunlight from below the horizon. Most guides to the sky say they’re ice crystals, but they’re too high up to be ‘normal’ ice, and since they reflect sunlight perfectly no-one knows for sure what they are.
Duncan Lunan’s latest book “From the Moon to the Stars”, a collection of space travel stories old and new relating to the Moon and Project Apollo, illustrated by Sydney Jordan, is now available from the publishers at https://othersidebooks.wordpress.com, as well as on Amazon or through booksellers; details of that and his other books are on Duncan’s website, www.duncanlunan.com.