What’s Up In This Week’s Sky? Stargazing Suggestions For June 23–28

( Keep abreast with the latest celestial events with the stargazing app Star Walk 2. )

Close approach of the Moon and the Beehive Cluster

This week, after the new moon and the ring of fire annular solar eclipse, our natural satellite returns to the evening sky. Every night, it will climb higher and higher in the sky and appear fuller to the eye.

The Moon joins the brightest stars

From Wednesday to Friday, June 24–26, the Moon will visit the constellation of Leo. On the night of Thursday, June 25, you can find the brightest object in the constellation of Leo and one of the brightest stars in the night sky — Regulus (Alpha Leonis) near the Moon. For observers from Earth, Regulus appears singular but is actually a quadruple star system composed of four stars that are organized into two pairs. The apparent magnitude of Regulus is +1.35.

( Easily locate celestial bodies in the sky with the free stargazing app Star Walk 2 for iOS and Android. )

Jupiter, Saturn and M75

Have you already seen a very bright spot shining in the east-southeastern sky? It’s Jupiter. In late June, it rises about two hours before midnight and adorns the sky until sunrise. The ringed planet Saturn rises about 15 minutes after Jupiter. These gas giants are now located close to each other on the sky’s dome and will continue their neighborhood throughout 2020. For observers from Earth, the king of planets appears silvery-white, while Saturn shines with a yellowish light. Although Jupiter is about 15 times brighter than Saturn, both planets are bright enough to be easily visible to the naked eye under dark, clear skies.

Conjunction of Jupiter and Pluto

If you want to try to spot Pluto in the sky, the night of June 25 is a good opportunity to do it. On this night, Jupiter and Pluto will make a close approach, passing within 0°41′ of one another. A small telescope or a pair of good binoculars will allow you to see the dim dwarf planet. To understand where to look in the sky to find planets, use the stargazing guide Star Walk 2.

Summer Triangle

Late June’s sky showcases the fascinating Summer Triangle. It is an asterism, a small pattern of stars made of three bright stars of three different constellations — Altair of Aquila, Deneb of Cygnus and Vega of Lyra. These bright, white stars are the first to appear in the dark eastern sky. They form a triangle in the sky that is visible to the naked eye. Vega is the highest and the brightest of the trio. Altair occupies the lower right corner of the triangle, and Deneb marks the lower left corner.

( Summer Triangle viewed from the Northern Hemisphere. )

June Bootid Meteor Shower

The June Bootid meteor shower takes place between June 22 and July 2 every year, with maximum activity on June 27. This meteor shower is almost always ignored by skywatchers, as its typical Zenith Hourly Rate (ZHR) is 1–2 meteors per hour on an average year. However, the June Bootid meteor shower is known for occasional outbursts of up to 100 meteors per hour. The last one happened in 1998.



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