The Night Sky This Month: June 2022

Summer Solstice
Image Credit: Philip Mackie

This year, the Summer Solstice will occur on June 21st at 9:05 UTC. At this time, the Sun will be directly over the Tropic of Cancer, marking the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and the first day of winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

The visible planets remain difficult to access for observers north of about latitude 500N, with most planets reaching their highest elevations during daylight hours, or being visible very low on the horizon for brief periods just before dawn. Therefore, the details of the visible planets given below pertain to observations from about latitude 250N.

The Moon Phases in June 2022

First Quarter
Full Moon
Last Quarter
New Moon
June 7th June 14th June 2oth June 28th

The Full Moon of the 14th will be a so-called Super Moon and the first of the three Super Moon events that will occur during 2022. During all three events, the Moon will be several thousand kilometers closer to Earth than it usually is during regular Full Moons.

The Planets in June 2022

Mercury was recently at a point of inferior solar conjunction. This means Mercury will not be observable from above latitude 250N as June starts as it will still be within 14 degrees of the Sun. However, by month’s end, the little planet will become visible as a pre-dawn object around 10 or so degrees above the eastern horizon about 75 minutes before dawn, which occurs at 06:11 EDT. Note though that Mercury reaches its point of greatest western elongation from the Sun on June 16th.

Venus is just still visible as an early morning object as seen from latitude 250N, having passed its point of greatest western elongation from the Sun. However, while Venus is now falling back towards to Sun, it is still visible at an elevation of about 22 degrees above the eastern horizon from around 2 hours or so before dawn, which occurs at 06:11 EDT at the start of June.

Mars remains visible as an early morning object above the eastern horizon as seen from latitude 250N throughout June. It will become accessible about 3.5 hours before dawn at the beginning of the month, and from about 2 hours before dawn towards the end of June. Also, its altitude will increase from about 28 degrees to just more than 50 degrees above the horizon as the month progresses.

Jupiter is also well placed as an early morning object throughout June as seen from latitude 250N. At the start of the June, the King of the planets will become visible about 3.5 hours before dawn, rising to an altitude of about 42 degrees above the southeastern horizon. Towards month’s end, the planet will become visible about one hour after midnight, and rise to a respectable 61 degrees above the horizon.

Saturn starts the month rising about one hour after midnight, reaching an elevation of about 49 degrees above the southern horizon. By the end of June, the planet’s altitude will have decreased to less than 10 degrees above the horizon, but will eventually reach an elevation of about 44 degrees before fading from view when dawn occurs at about 05:59 EDT.

Uranus is not visible from latitude 250N at the start of June. However, by month’s end, the planet will become accessible from this latitude about 3 hours and 20 minutes before dawn, reaching an elevation of about 29 degrees above the eastern horizon before becoming lost in the brightening dawn sky.

Neptune is now emerging from behind the Sun and is therefore visible as an early morning object as seen from latitude 250N. Beginning of June, Neptune will become accessible from about 02:27 EDT, and rise to a height of 37 degrees above the southeastern horizon. Towards the end of the month, Neptune will rise only 30 minutes or so after midnight, and it will reach an elevation of 57 degrees before becoming lost in the brightening sky.

Meteor Showers in June 2022

No significant meteor activity is expected to occur during June.

Deep Sky Objects to Look for in June 2022

Since the planets are all but inaccessible to observers in most of the UK, we have selected three globular star clusters, all of which rise to 40 degrees or above their respective horizons, making it easy for far northern observers to hunt them down with small to medium telescopes. Since these clusters will rise significantly higher for observers from about latitude 250N, all altitudes given here pertain to observations made from the city of Miami, Florida, and its immediate environs.

Messier 5 (M5, NGC 5904, GCl 34)

Located about 24,500 light-years away in the constellation Serpens, this magnitude 5.6 globular cluster is just visible as a faint star without optical aid under good seeing conditions. Although this cluster spans across 160 light-years, only about 200 or so stars are confirmed members. However, at least 105 member stars are confirmed variable stars, 97 of which fall into the RR Lyrae class of variables, one of which varies in brightness by about 2 magnitudes over a period of 26.5 days.

Look for M5 about 0.37 of a degree to the northwestward of the bright star 5 Serpentis, and about 55 degrees above the southwestern horizon just as darkness falls. Note, though, that while binoculars will resolve the globular shape of the cluster, a medium-sized telescope is required to resolve the outer fringes of the cluster into individual stars.

Messier 3 (M3

Located about 33,000 light-years away in the constellation Canes Venatici, this magnitude 6.2 globular cluster is not only among the most spectacular northern clusters; it is also among the brightest, biggest, and most massive of the Milky Way’s estimated 250 globular clusters.

Spanning across a distance of just more than 180 light-years, M3 contains at least 500,000 stars, about 274 of which are confirmed variable stars, the highest count of variable stars in any currently known globular cluster. Moreover, of this number of variable stars, 133 are confirmed RR Lyrae variables, and about 40 or so of these variables display the Blazhko Effect, which is another way of saying that these stars change in brightness over longer periods than typical RR Lyrae stars do.

Although M5 is among the brightest globular clusters, it is exceedingly difficult to spot without optical aid, even in excellent conditions. Nonetheless, you can find the cluster with a small to medium telescope 86 degrees above the northeastern horizon just after darkness falls.

Messier 92 (M92, NGC 6341, GCl 59)

Located about 27,000 light-years away in the constellation Hercules, this magnitude 6.4 globular cluster is easy to spot without optical aid throughout the night, although it is often mistaken for M13, another bright globular cluster that lies close to M92 along our line of sight.

While M92 spans across s distance of 109 light-years, it is only about 330,000 times as massive as the Sun, meaning that it contains very few heavy elements, even by globular cluster standards. Nonetheless, M92’s chief claim to fame is that the Earth’s North Celestial Pole regularly passes within one degree of the cluster, meaning that about 12,000 years ago, M92 was the North Cluster, and will be again about 16,000 years from now due to the precession of Earth’s axis.

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