June 2023 Stargazing Guide

Posted on Thursday, June 8th, 2023

Greetings Junior Scientists, scientists and citizens of the great big weird, wild and wonderful world in which we live. As always I'm your humble science communicator the great Orbax coming to you from the Department of Physics at the University of Guelph and I'd like to welcome you to our June 2023 Star Gazing Guide.

[Music] it's Summertime Summertime Summertime Summertime Summertime Welcome to June. This month we celebrate the first official day of summer on June 21st. Through the muggy heat and the swarms of mosquitoes we'll also see that June brings us the earliest sunrise of the year on June 17th at 5:39 a.m. As well as the latest sunset of the year on June 25th at 9:06 p.m. What else is in store for June?

This month we take a look at some unique planet spotting opportunities...
check out some weird and beautiful cloud coverage...
and learn what the solstice actually means.

All this and more if we do we just take some time... to look up.

If you've been watching these Star Gazing Guides for a while then you know I love to tell you about cool planet spotting opportunities and you also know that Venus has been burning up our evening sky and will continue to do so for the rest of the month. On June 12th and 13th Venus will appear to pass through a deep sky object that we've talked about before. M44, or Praesepe, is perhaps best known as the Beehive Cluster. This is an open star cluster in the constellation Cancer. While a telescope would be ideal, even a pair of binoculars will allow you to see the brightly glowing Venus pass through this gorgeous scatter shot of stars in the Western sky.

Now Mars and Venus will continue to get closer together as the month goes on with Mars still very faint. On the 21st you'll have a great chance to spot the conjunction of Mars, Venus and the Crescent Moon. Our three nearest celestial neighbors as close to each other as they'll get in the summer sky.

In the mornings Jupiter and Saturn will return to viewing in the East. June 9th will bring the conjunction of Saturn and the Moon in the SouthEast and on June 15th you will be able to see Jupiter rising with the crescent Moon, both visible just before dawn.

Our full moon this month took place on June 3rd and is known as the Strawberry Moon. Ode’miin Giizis. Named by the indigenous Ojibwe people of the Great Lakes region and marking the time to collect June bearing strawberries. For those of the Cree Nation the full moon is called Opiniyawiwipisim. The Egg Laying Moon. Referring to the activities of the wild waterfowl. The Mi'kmaw call it Nipniku’s or Trees Fully Leafed Moon.
The Mohawk call it the Fruits Are Small moon and the Cherokee call it the Green Corn Moon both signifying that the crops are growing.

Hey. Come here. You want to see something cool? Check out these clouds...

These are noctilucent or night shining clouds. I know we normally talk about stars but when Royal City Science’s own Planetary Geochemist Dr. Glynis Perrett told me about these I had to share them with you. This cloud-like phenomena occurs when ice crystals are formed in the low temperature boundary between the mesosphere and the thermosphere. These are only visible on summer evenings when we, on the surface, are already in the Earth’s shadow but the upper atmosphere is still exposed to sunlight. The light interacting with the ice crystals results in these incredible glowing clouds and, if you’re reeeeeally lucky, you can see them during the evenings in June.

The first day of summer is June 21st and it's defined by the summer solstice. The Earth has an axis that we say it rotates about... it's like an imaginary line between the north and the south poles. It takes 24 hours for one full rotation, which is a day. Now this axis isn't perfectly perpendicular to the plane of our orbit around the Sun, it's actually tipped at 23.5 degrees. The winter solstice in December marks the day of the year the north pole is actually its furthest possible distance from the sun. The summer solstice on June 21st however is the day that the north pole is tipped closest towards the Sun, and as a result the northern hemisphere experiences the most daylight hours that it receives all year. This is often referred to as the longest day of the year, which is kind of confusing since the day only ever has 24 hours. In reality it's actually the day that we experience the most daylight hours in a year. As we head towards winter, the daylight hours will now begin to decrease in length while the nighttime hours will extend for even more stargazing.

I'd like to wrap up this month's Star Ggazing with a shout out to some of our Star Gazers out there! Willem and Emmett Fumerton took a ride out to Mill of Kintail conservation area near Almonte Ontario to get a better look at the night sky and sent in these photos! Awesome work Star Gazers! The best skies for gazing are the darkest, and sometimes getting away from the light pollution of your city makes it feel like you’re looking at a whole new sky! If you want to show off what you’re seeing then don’t forget to tag us in your star gazing videos or just forward it along in an email. In the meantime remember that the mysteries of the universe await you just beyond the edge of our sky, and it’s all there just waiting for you when you take some time… to look up.

See you next month junior scientists and don't forget to have a science-tastic day! special thanks to Royal City Science’s own Planetary Geochemist Dr. Glynis Perrett for her help preparing our Star Gazing Guide and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.


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