In June, you can spend nights observing deep-sky objects, even with amateur optics. Deep-sky objects (or DSOs) are celestial bodies located outside our Solar System. The brightest of them are listed in the Messier Catalog. You’ll recognize a Messier object by the letter “M” in its name. The other popular reference list is The New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars — its objects receive the letters “NGC.” Apart from these, there are other deep-sky catalogs, like the Index Catalogue, Caldwell, Collinder, Barnard, and others. Some DSOs are listed in multiple catalogs, so they have several different names.
Brightest star clusters to see in June
In June 2022, we’ll have a great view of several globular and open star clusters:
- June 2: M13 (magnitude 5.8);
- June 3: M12 (magnitude 6.1);
- June 6: M10 (magnitude 6.6);
- June 7: M62 (magnitude 6.4);
- June 11: M92 (magnitude 6.5);
- June 16: NGC 6388 (magnitude 6.8);
- June 17: M6 (magnitude 4.2);
- June 17: NGC 6397 (magnitude 5.6);
- June 18: IC 4665 (magnitude 4.2);
- June 20: M7 (magnitude 4.1);
- June 23: NGC 6530 (magnitude 4.6);
- June 24: NGC 6541 (magnitude 6.6);
- June 29: NGC 6633 (magnitude 4.6).
Let’s take a closer look at the 7 brightest.
June 2: The Hercules Cluster (M13)
The Hercules globular cluster will shine at a magnitude of 5.8, reaching its highest point in the sky at your local midnight. M13 is one of the brightest star clusters in the Northern Hemisphere, but it’s only seen from the latitudes north of 33°S.
The globular cluster got its name from the constellation Hercules where it is placed. It contains several hundred thousand stars so close that sometimes they run into each other and form new stars. M13 can’t be seen with the naked eye, but you’ll get a great view of the globular cluster even through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.
June 17: The Butterfly Cluster (M6)
Look for the Butterfly open star cluster (magnitude 4.2) in the constellation Scorpius. You will get the best view in the Southern Hemisphere, but you can’t observe it from latitudes much north of 37°N. In June, the star cluster will be visible all night long, reaching the highest point in the sky at around midnight local time.
M6 covers about as much of the sky as the Full Moon, so it’s better to observe it through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope because it won’t fit in the view of the larger optics. You’ll see the butterfly shape composed of blue stars and one outstanding orange star. You can even try to spot it with the naked eye — dark skies and sharp eyes provided.
June 17: NGC 6397
The globular cluster NGC 6397 is located in the constellation Ara. It is one of the closest globular clusters to the Earth, placed 7,800 light-years away from it. The best locations to observe NGC 6397 are in the Southern Hemisphere, in latitudes south of 16°N.
Shining at a magnitude of 5.7, the globular cluster will be tricky to spot with the naked eye, but you’ll see the bulk of stars through a pair of binoculars or a small telescope. Through a telescope, you’ll see the myriad of blue, white, and orange stars of different sizes.
June 18: IC 4665
The open star cluster IC 4665 will shine at a magnitude of 4.2 in the constellation Ophiuchus. It’s well seen both in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, between the latitudes 75°N and 64°S. The best time to see the cluster is at around midnight local time.
IC 4665 may seem dimmer than its apparent magnitude because the cluster is spread out more than twice the Full Moon diameter. To get a better view, use a pair of binoculars or a small telescope. You can even try to spot IC 4665 with the naked eye from locations that aren’t light-polluted.
June 20: the Ptolemy Cluster (M7)
The Ptolemy Cluster (magnitude 4.1) will shine brightly in the constellation Scorpius. It will be best seen in the Southern Hemisphere, from latitudes south of 35°N. The best time to observe the cluster is at around midnight local time.
As the cluster’s name suggests, M7 was discovered back in antiquity by Greek-Egyptian astronomer Claudius Ptolemy. He observed the cluster without any optics, and you can also try to spot the Ptolemy Cluster with the naked eye in the dark skies. You’ll get the best view of M7 with a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.
June 23: NGC 6530
NGC 6530 is a young open star cluster close to the Lagoon Nebula (M8) in the constellation Sagittarius. It will shine at a magnitude of 4.6, best seen in the Southern Hemisphere, from latitudes south of 45°N. It will reach its highest point in the sky at your local midnight.
You can try to spot NGC 6530 with the naked eye in the dark skies without any light pollution, but it’s better to use at least a pair of binoculars. With an amateur telescope, you’ll get a great view of more than two dozen stars.
June 29: NGC 6633
The open star cluster NGC 6633 (magnitude 4.6) will shine brightly in the constellation Ophiuchus. The cluster will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. It will be well seen in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, at latitudes between 76°N and 63°S.
NGC 6633 covers about as much of the sky as the Full Moon. Therefore it’s best observed through a pair of binoculars. If you want to use a telescope, better to choose a smaller one so that the cluster entirely fits in the field of view. But you can even try to spot the cluster with the naked eye if your eyes are sharp and the skies aren’t light-polluted.
Deep-sky objects meet the Moon and Venus
In June 2022, we’ll also enjoy DSOs meeting the objects in our Solar System. So let’s take a closer look at these events.
June 4: the Moon meets the Beehive Cluster
On June 4, at 07:17 GMT (03:17 a.m. EDT), the Moon will reach the conjunction with the Beehive Cluster. The objects will lie at a distance of about 4° from each other. The Beehive Cluster will shine at a magnitude of 3.07, and the 20% illuminated lunar disk will be as bright as -9.5. The distance between the objects will be too wide to fit in the telescope’s field of view, so observe them through a pair of binoculars or with the naked eye.
June 23: Venus meets the Pleiades
On June 23, at 00:53 GMT (on June 22, at 08:53 p.m. EDT), beautiful Venus will meet the “Seven Sisters” — the Pleiades. Find them in the night sky within 5.7° from each other. Unfortunately, the distance is too wide to fit in the telescope’s field of view, but you can use a pair of binoculars. The celestial bodies can even be spotted with the naked eye — Venus will shine at a magnitude of -3.87, and the Pleiades will accompany it at a magnitude of 1.20.
June 25: the Moon meets the Pleiades
On June 25, at 21:27 GMT (5:27 p.m. EDT), the Moon will get close to the Pleiades star cluster. The distance between them in the moment of conjunction will be 3.9° which is too wide to observe through a telescope. This event isn’t so spectacular for the naked eye either, but you’ll get a great view with a pair of binoculars. The 9% illuminated lunar disc will shine at a magnitude of -8.22, and the Pleiades will join at a magnitude of 1.2.
If you aren’t sure where and when to see deep-sky objects from your location, use the stargazing app Sky Tonight. You just need to type the name of the DSO you’re looking for in the search bar, and you’ll learn about the object’s location, related events, and other detailed information.
We wish you clear skies and successful observations!
Text Credit: Vito Technology, Inc.