June offers warm nights for watching the sky, but a limited amount of time to enjoy the view, with the longest days and shortest nights of the year. Even so, there’s plenty to look at, with Leo diving toward the western horizon at nightfall and the Summer Triangle climbing into view in the eastern sky. It crowns the sky in the wee hours of the morning, with its brightest star, Vega, passing directly overhead. Vega is the second-brightest star visible from mid-northern latitudes on summer evenings, only a few per- cent behind yellow-orange Arcturus, which is high in the south at nightfall.
This Week's Stargazing Tips
June 19: Moon and Saturn
The planet Saturn is in good view tonight. It looks like a bright star to the upper right of the Moon at nightfall. Saturn stays with the Moon as they swing across the southwest and set in the early morning.
June 20: Summer
Summer returns to the northern hemisphere tonight at the moment of the summer solstice. The Sun stands farthest north in the sky for the entire year at the solstice, which also brings the year’s longest days.
June 21: Moon and Antares
Antares, the bright heart of the scorpion, is close to the lower right of the Moon as night falls this evening. It stays close to the Moon as they scoot across the south during the night.
June 22: Full Moon
The full Moon skirts low across the south tonight. It is in view for less time than any other full Moon of the year. It is known as the Flower Moon, Strawberry Moon, Rose Moon, or Honey Moon. The official moment of full Moon is 6:32 a.m. CDT tomorrow.
June 23: Colorful Arcturus
Arcturus, the leading light of Bootes, the herdsman, stands high in the south as twilight turns to darkness. It is the brightest star in the sky during the evening hours, so it’s hard to miss. It shines yellow-orange.
June 24: Saint John’s Day
Today is Saint John’s Day, an ancient festival date that marked midsummer in England. In many cultures, the solstice was the midpoint of a season, not the beginning. The event was celebrated with giant bonfires the night before.
June 25: Ara
Below the curved tail of Scorpius, deep in southern skies, Ara, the altar, sends its tendrils of smoke billowing into the Milky Way. Although faint, Ara has a long history. It probably originated in Sumeria about 5,500 years ago.
Check last week's tips if you missed a day.