Night Sky in June Hero - Oliver Henze via Flickr

9 Must-See Events in the Night Sky in June 2019

In Night Sky Guide by Peder Halseide1 Comment

The constellation Ophiuchus gets quite a workout this month of June 2019! This lesser-known constellation features M12 on the 4th, the conjunction of the Moon and Jupiter on the 16th, and the radiant and namesake for the Ophiuchus meteorite shower on the 20th.

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Where necessary, we have noted (with ) where you may need binoculars or a telescope to help you get the best view of each celestial event. If you need a telescope to help enjoy this month’s night sky events, we have a guide to the best stargazing telescopes. From the Meade Polaris 130 (under $200) to the Orion Atlas 8 EQ-G GoTo ($2000), you can find one for your astronomy interest and budget.

As we summer in the northern hemisphere, it’s a great time to see celestial objects and events in the southern part of the sky that are hidden during other seasons. Grab your binoculars or telescope, a blanket, and head out to see the wonders of the night sky in June.

June 3 – M13 is Well-Placed 

Messier 13

 Note: Binoculars or a telescope will really help you view this object!

The new moon of early June will keep visibility good for seeing two different Messier objects. M13 is a globular star cluster in the constellation Hercules. Through binoculars, it looks like a faint patch of light. In 1974, we beamed a radio message encoded with information about Earth from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico towards M13. This was in the hopes that intelligent life would be able to pick up the message some 22,200 years from now.

To find M13, locate the bright stars of Vega and Arcturus. Vega and Arcturus can be located by looking almost directly overhead in the northern hemisphere. You will find M13 about half of the way from Vega to Arcturus, in the “armpit” of the Hercules constellation.

June 4 – M12 is Well-Placed

Messier 12
Photo credit: NASA Hubble Space Telescope

 Note: Binoculars or a telescope will really help you view this object!

M12, the second Messier object of this month is also a globular star cluster, like M13. Globular clusters like M12 (and M13) contain some of the oldest stars in our galaxy. Individual stars in M12 can be resolved only with the aid of a telescope.  

You can find M12 by locating Vega, then finding Antares instead, in the constellation of Ophiuchus. M12 is about halfway between Antares and Vega, and on a dark night – like on the 4th of June –, you should be able to faintly see M12 with binoculars or better.

June 5 – Close Approach of the Moon & Mars

Mars & Venus - Auvo Korpi via Flickr
Photo credit: Auvo Korpi via Flickr

In an encore of last month, but only two days after the new moon, we will again be able to see Mars and the moon in the same part of the sky.

They will appear close to us in the western sky, but only about 18° above the horizon at sunset, and rapidly sinking as they both chase the setting sun.  Look for the new waxing crescent moon, then look for Mars at about the 11:00 position relative to the moon.

They will be separated by just over 1°, about the width of your little finger held at arm’s length. For this conjunction, the Moon and Mars are best-viewed through binoculars or your unaided eye. Since the moon will only be two days old, it will not be bright enough to wash out a good view of Mars.

June 7 – Close Approach of the Moon & M44

M44 - Thomas Bresson via Flickr
Photo credit: Thomas Bresson via Flickr

Messier 44, or, M44, is better known as the “Beehive Cluster.” Unlike globular clusters like M12 and M13 which lie outside the main plane of the galaxy, M44 is an “open cluster” in orbit around the galactic center. Comprised of around 1000 stars or so, the Beehive Cluster was one of the very first objects studied by Galileo when the Italian astronomer first pointed his telescope at this group of stars in 1609.

As the sun sets on the night of the 7th, look to the west to find the 4-day old moon.  M44 will be just a bit to the right, about a quarter of a degree away. If you put your finger up to the moon, it will likely cover both the Moon and M44. Don’t wait too long after sunset: both the Moon and M44 will set out of view in less than 4 hours.

June 8 – M62 is Well-Placed

Messier 62
Photo credit: NASA Hubble Space Telescope

 Note: Binoculars or a telescope will really help you view this object!

Our fourth Messier object for the month of June takes us back to the Ophiuchus constellation. M62 is a metal-rich and diverse globular cluster that is very nearly spherical. It contains many interesting stars and is thought to possibly contain an intermediate-mass black hole at its center. Anyone above a latitude of 40° will be too far north to see M62.

To find M62, locate Ophiuchus in the southern sky.  It is difficult to find M62 as there are no guide stars to help. One method is to imagine a right angle triangle consisting of Antares and epsilon Scorpii with M62 at the third corner. A star-finder app will make this much easier!

June 10 – Peak of the Ophiuchid Meteor Shower

Quadrantid Meteor Shower - Donovan Shortey via Flickr
Photo credit: Donovan Shortey via Flickr

On June 10th, some lucky folks will be treated to the Ophiuchid meteor shower.  Like other meteor showers, the Ophiuchid shower happens yearly at about the same date. This year, the meteor shower will peak around June 10th when you can see about 5 meteors per hour.

For the best chance to see this shower, find the Ophiuchus constellation in the southern sky, then look upwards about 30°-40° from that point. You can approximate this by stacking your fists 3-4 times above Ophiuchus’ head. From this point, the Ophiuchid meteorites will radiate outward overhead.

June 16 – Close Approach of the Moon & Jupiter

Milky Way, Mars, Jupiter & Saturn - Manuel Escuder via Flickr
Photo credit: Manuel Escuder via Flickr

The planet Jupiter will dance with the moon on June 16th, in the Ophiuchus constellation – again!

Look for Jupiter to the right of the moon in the southern sky, about a finger’s width (about 1.5°) away. The moon will be almost half full, but Jupiter will be the second brightest object in the sky all night. This is a naked-eye event, but binoculars will be a handy (but not necessary) tool to see the contrast and closeness between the moon and Jupiter.

June 18 – Close Approach of Mars & Mercury and the Moon & Saturn

Mercury, Mars & Moon - Raymond Shobe via Flickr
Photo credit: Raymond Shobe via Flickr

Around 9 p.m. your local time, look west. You can see Mars and Mercury in close proximity in Gemini, just after the sun sets. Mercury is the planet nearest the sun, so it a treat to see it. Mars is far behind us on its trip around the sun. Looking west, you should be able to see the pair only about 0°13′ apart. Mercury will be on top, and Mars on the bottom.

If you get up early on the morning of the 18th, around 2am, focus your gaze to the southeast. You will be able to spot Saturn to the right of the moon, only 0°26′ apart as they graze the Sagittarius constellation.

June 19 – Close Approach of the Moon & Pluto

Night Sky Events - Pluto - NASA Goddard via Flickr
New Horizons image of Pluto – Photo credit: NASA Goddard via Flickr

 Note: Binoculars or a telescope will really help you view this object!

On the night of June 19th, the moon will be a waxing gibbous at 16 days old. Look early in the morning in the constellation Sagittarius. Pluto and the Moon will be within 0°03′, close enough to both be in view simultaneously with a telescope. If you have a telescope (at least 8” or better), you might get a chance to see the dwarf planet, Pluto.  

Even if you are unable to locate Pluto, look to the right of the moon to find Saturn. Then draw an imaginary line from the Moon to Saturn, and keep following that line to find Jupiter.  If you continue to imagine that invisible line highlighted with Pluto, the Moon, Saturn and Jupiter, you have just created a great visualization for our solar plane. This is called the ecliptic, the almost flat disk that all of the planets spin around the sun like on a record.  It is a great way to get a feel for the cosmic scale and our small piece on it!

June 21 – June Solstice & Ptolemy Cluster/M7 is Well Placed

Messier 7

Note: Binoculars or a telescope will really help you view M7!

The 21st of June marks the longest day of the year above the equator in the northern hemisphere. It truly is a remarkable event to note the position of the sun in the sky during the day. This is especially obvious at sunrise or sunset, to mark the northernmost progression of our home star as it rises and sets.

June 21 also marks the day that M7 will reach its highest point in the sky all year. M7 is also called the Ptolemy cluster after the 2nd-century Greek astronomer Claudius Ptolemy. To find it, look for the square looking group of stars near the tail of the constellation of Scorpius just before midnight. Its apparent size about two times the size of a full moon. M7 is the southernmost Messier object, making the night of the summer solstice the best time to see it from the northern hemisphere.

June 24 – NGC 6530 is Well-Placed Near the Lagoon Nebula

Lagoon Nebula - gianni via Flickr
Photo credit: gianni via Flickr

 Note: Binoculars or a telescope will really help you view this object!

NCG 6530 is another open cluster in our Milky Way.  It is about 4300 light years away from us. Many stars in this cluster are interesting sources of  X-rays. NCG 6530 is nested inside of the Lagoon Nebula; it can be seen with binoculars or a telescope.

The Lagoon Nebula is located near the Sagittarius constellation. It looks something like a teapot, spewing out the Milky Way as the “steam.” To spot the Lagoon Nebula, look due south around 1 a.m. about halfway between Saturn on the left, and Jupiter on the right.

Take advantage of the summer season in the northern hemisphere! There some beautiful wonders and objects are waiting for you. Have questions about night sky events this June? Let us know in the comments.

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Featured photo credit: Oliver Henze via Flickr

About the Author
Peder Halseide

Peder Halseide

Peder is a freelance writer and space fan. He loves sharing his passion for space with kids and adults. When Peder is not writing or chasing his kids, he is typically found flying his stunt kite or skateboarding on the surface of spaceship Earth.

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    There is total solar eclipse in this year.I am really excited see this.

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