Find out what to go out and look at this month

Planets:

Mercury returns very low in the Eastern sky in the middle of June appearing in the constellation of Taurus (The Bull). Venus will be low in the Western sky in June, it will move from the constellation of Taurus (The Bull), through the constellation of Gemini (The Twins) and into the constellation of Cancer (The Crab). Mars will be located at the start of the month in the constellation of Gemini (The Twins) in the North-Western evening sky and it’ll move into the constellation of Cancer through June. At the start of the month, Mars will set at 08:20 pm (AWST), but by the end of the month, it’ll set at 07:53 pm (AWST).

Jupiter and Saturn can be found in the Eastern sky in the late evening sky. Jupiter can be found in the constellation of Aquarius while Saturn can be found in the constellation of Capricornus (The Sea-Goat) during June. At the beginning of the month, Jupiter will rise at 11:17 pm (AWST) and Saturn will rise at 09:50 pm (AWST). By the end of the month, Jupiter will rise at 09:25 pm (AWST) and Saturn will rise at 07:51 pm (AWST).

Uranus has returned out of the Sun’s glare and can be found in the early morning in the constellation of Aries (The Ram). At the beginning of June, Uranus will rise at 04:53 am (AWST) and by the end of the month, it’ll rise at 03:06 am (AWST). Neptune will be viewable as well in the early morning between the constellation of Aquarius and the constellation of Pisces. At the start of June, Neptune will rise at 01:01 am and by the end of the month, it’ll rise at 11:04 pm (AWST).

Mercury on the 30/06/21 at 06:00 am. Image Credit: Stellarium
Venus and Mars on the 15/06/21 at 06:00 pm. Image Credit: Stellarium
Jupiter and Saturn on the 15/06/21 at 00:00 am. Image Credit: Stellarium
Uranus and Neptune on the 15/06/21 at 05:00 am. Image Credit: Stellarium

Conjunctions And Occultations:

Conjunctions involve object(s) in the Solar System and/or more distant objects, such as a star. It’s an apparent phenomenon in which multiple objects which aren’t close together appear close in the sky and it’s caused by the observer’s perspective. An occultation is an event that occurs when one object is hidden by another object that passes between it and the observer.

  • 01/06/21 – Conjunction of The Moon and Jupiter (Where to look)
  • 02/06/21 – Conjunction of The Moon and Jupiter (Where to look)
  • 12/06/21 – Conjunction of The Moon and Venus (Where to look)
  • 13/06/21 – Conjunction of The Moon, Venus, Mars, Castor and Pollux (Where to look)
  • 14/06/21 – Conjunction of The Moon and Mars (Where to look)
  • 16/06/21 – Conjunction of The Moon and Regulus (Where to look)
  • 20/06/21 – Conjunction of The Moon and Spica (Where to look)
  • 23/06/21 – Conjunction of The Moon and Antares (Where to look)
  • 28/06/21 – Conjunction of The Moon and Saturn (Where to look)
  • 29/06/21 – Conjunction of The Moon and Jupiter (Where to look)
  • 30/06/21 – Alignment of The Moon, Jupiter and Saturn (Where to look)

Astronomical Events This Month:

The June Solstice:

The June Solstice occurs on the 21st of June at 11:32 am (AWST), marking the beginning of astronomical winter for the southern hemisphere, and the start of summer for the northern hemisphere. This is an exact moment when the Sun’s declination equals 23.5 degrees south as seen from the Earth. The line of latitude where the Sun passes directly overhead during the June solstice is known as the Tropic of Cancer, although in modern times, the Sun is in the astronomical constellation of Gemini in mid-June, thanks to precession.

The June solstice means the southern rotational pole of the Earth is tipped away from the Sun and will now begin its long apparent journey northward again until December. The wobble of Earth’s axis known as the Precession of the Equinoxes takes about 26,000 years to complete one ‘wobble’. Live out an average 72-year life span, and the equinoctial points will have moved one degree (about twice the diameter of a Full Moon).

Equinoxes and Solstices. Image Copyright: timeanddate.com
The June Solstice. Image Credit: TimeandDate.com

Things To Look At This Month:

Ptolemy Cluster:

The Ptolemy’s Cluster (M7 & NGC 6475) is a large open cluster near the sting of the tail of the constellation of Scorpius. While it’s 980 light-years away from us, it’s large enough to be seen with the unaided eye in a dark sky and is a nice sight in binoculars. The cluster is 25 light-years across, and it contains around 100 stars in total. It was first described by the Greek-Roman astronomer Ptolemy in 130 AD from which it gets its common name of Ptolemy’s cluster. The colour of the stars in this cluster is predominately yellow, indicating this is an older cluster, with an estimated age of 260 million years. Clusters that contain many hot blue stars, like the Pleiades, are considerably younger.

Ptolemy Cluster on the 15/06/21 at 09:00pm. Image Credit: Stellarium
Ptolemy Cluster. Image Credit & Copyright: Lorand Fenyes
The Jewel Box:

An open cluster the Jewel Box can be found very close in the Crux (Southern Cross) Constellation, the Jewel Box is located some 6,440 light-years away from Earth and is 14 light-years across. The cluster contains just over 100 stars, and with an estimated age of its stars being just 14 million years, this star cluster is one of the youngest clusters that we’ve found. The Jewel Box cluster also has some of the brightest stars in the Milky Way galaxy. These stars are supergiants and the red, white and blue stars in the centre of the cluster look very much like the lights of a traffic light.

Jewel Box on the 15/06/21 at 9:00pm. Image Credit: Stellarium
The Jewel Box in perspective - Image credit: ESO, NASA/ESA, Digitized Sky Survey 2 and Jesús Maíz Apellániz
Eta Carinae And The Carina Nebula:

Variable brightness and Colour, Eta Carinae is one of the most remarkable stars in the heavens. When we say “Eta Carinae” we refer to the star itself which for Perth is a circumpolar star (We see the star all year round) and not the nebula.

Eta Carinae is 100 times the Sun’s mass and 4 million times brighter, those this brightness has been unstable with the star being recorded over the past 300 years between magnitude -0.8 which is as bright as Canopus and +7.9. It’s a star that’s sometimes in the news as it’s expected to become a supernova within the next 1 million years and will be a spectacular sight when it occurs, being visible by day and possibly bright enough to read by at night.

Eta Carinae is very likely a binary star with the smaller partner orbiting in a highly elliptical orbit of 5.5 years. The Carinae Nebula (NGC 3372), which surrounds Eta Carinae, is a large, bright star-formation region that has produced several very massive stars including Eta Carinae. At around 260 light-years the Carina Nebula is around 7 times the size of the Great Orion Nebula, but due to its greater distance, it only spans twice the width. There are many O-type stars, young (~2 million years), hot and bright that energise the entire Eta Carinae nebula.

Carina Nebula on the 15/06/21 at 09:00 pm. Image Credit: Stellarium
Carina Nebula. Image Credit: Roger Groom
Eta Carinae. Image Credit: NASA
Omega Centauri:

Omega Centauri or NGC 5139 is the largest and brightest globular cluster of 180 in the Milky Way and is the second-largest known, with only Mayall II in the Andromeda Galaxy being larger coming ins about twice its mass. The Globular cluster is located in Centaurus Constellation and it’s a naked eye ‘star’ and visible in binoculars as a ‘fuzzy blob’. Omega Centauri contains at least 3 million stars and the cluster has a diameter of roughly 150 light-years and the stars are roughly 12 billion years old. The average distance between the stars at the centre is around 10% of a light-year or more than 100 times the diameter of our solar system. It may be a dwarf galaxy that has been captured and disrupted by the Milky Way galaxy and measurements of its star movement by Hubble has indicated that a black hole may be located at the core of the cluster.

Omega Centauri on the 15/06/21 at 09:00 pm. Image Credit: Stellarium
Omega Centauri. Image Credit: Perth Observtory Volunteer Andrew Lockwood

Phases Of The Moon:

June 2020 Moon phases