All information presented here is taken from my 74 page book
Nightscenes 2018 which is available to order from our web shop and all good book stores! Note we can no longer supply printed copies as we’ve run out but a pdf version is now available from our web shop. A kindle version is also available from Amazon UK
Click on the monthly image to get a larger high resolution view of the night sky set for 53° N (Horncastle, England) but is usable for the UK and Eire. All charts are set for the 1st of the month at 22:00 GMT (10pm) and can be used on the other dates and times shown in each corner of the chart.
Solar System quick summary
For most charts see the buttons at the top for various planets etc.. Charts & images in the text can be clicked to give a larger view.
Venus and Jupiter dominate the evenings, Venus passes close to M44 on the 19th and Jupiter passes north of Alpha Libra, 2nd to 5th. Mid month Mercury creeps up into the evening twilight. Ceres lies in the evening sky and is very close to Epsilon Leo on the 3rd and Algieba on the 27th. Saturn comes to opposition this month on the 27th as does Vesta (19th). Vesta also lies close to M23 on the 14th. Mars lies in the morning sky, is brightening and stationary on the 28th. Neptune and Uranus are now viewable in the mornings. The Moon occults Omicron Sagittarius on the 28th. The next few months until mid August may see displays of Noctilucent Clouds in the Northern summer night sky (see new link above).
It’s Jupiter time! The giant planet reached opposition on May 9th and is now viewable in the evening skies. It is bright at mag -
In a 10x50 binocular you can just see it is a disk and the four Galilean moons can be spotted with care. It helps to put the binocular on a tripod for stability.
In a small telescope Jupiter shows the two major bands, North Equatorial and South Equatorial belts and with care you may even glimpse the Great Red Spot, although it can often look like a pale oval in small instruments. Larger telescopes will pick out more finer banding, plumes and other subtle details making the planet very rewarding to view along with the motions of the Galilean moons.
Although Jupiter is ‘king’ for the late evenings, the early evening twilight belongs to Venus, at first that is, until Mercury creeps up from mid month. The chart (left) shows Venus and Mercury from June 14th daily until July 16th at approximately 10pm each day looking West to WNW. The crescent Moon lies to the far left of Mercury, and below right of Venus on June 15th, then to the slight lower left of Venus the next evening. It again passes through this view in July as is also marked on the chart. I have not included enlargements of the crescent Moon on the chart to aid clarity. Mercury is always brighter at the start of evening apparition and fades so better to catch it in the last two weeks of June with the naked eye but once you know where to look then you might be able to follow it until it drops below the horizon in mid July.
The above view is set for twilight summer sky conditions so no stars are visible. Use a binocular on Venus on the 11th and look to its slight upper right for two stars forming a line with it. They are Pollux and Castor, with Pollux being the closer to Venus of the two. Then on the evenings of the 19th & 20th as the bright planet lies close to the star cluster, M44 as shown at right but allow Venus to get a little lower in the sky so the sky is darker for the best view of the cluster.
Saturn is now the highlight of the month as it comes to opposition on the 27th. At last it can be seen all night and from now on will steadily improve in the evenings for easier viewing. If there is one planet you really should take a look at through a telescope then the Ringed Planet is the one as there is nothing else in our solar system quite like it when you see the rings for yourself. The chart here shows the main features to look out for. Even in a spotting scope or large binocular you can just make out that Saturn is special in that it appears elongated.
To add to the fun, a large binocular or a small telescope will also show Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, orbiting around the planet taking 16 days to complete one orbit. Time of when it is furthest from Saturn are shown above so do try to track it down.
Our Moon lies close to Saturn twice this month which can only happen when the Moon is close to an object at the beginning of the month so enabling a second encounter at the end of the month, as in this case. The Moon is shown for the 1st of the month directly above Saturn after midnight and then when the Full Moon lies close by on the 28th. Note that the bright moonlight will drown out many of the deep sky objects noted on the chart but it is still worth trying to spot a few of them with binocular or telescope.
Meanwhile, minor planet Vesta also comes to opposition a week before Saturn, on the 19th. Its path for the month is also shown with its opposition position marked. A few days earlier it lies under the star cluster M23 on the night of the 14th/15th so astrophotographers take note. It is worth comparing the two path lengths as Vesta lies much closer to the Earth and so appears to move across more of the sky than the more distant ringed giant.
Also look out for the following:
Jun 3rd Moon lies above right of Mars (morning) / Ceres lies extremely close to Epsilon Leo (evening)
Jun 4th Moon lies to the left of Mars (morning)
Jun 5th Moon forms line with Delta and Gamma Cap (morning)
Jun 17th Crescent Moon lies to the lower right of Regulus (evening)
Jun 18th Crescent Moon lies to the left of Regulus (evening)
Jun 20th First Quarter Moon lies to the right of Porrima (evening)
Jun 21st Summer Solstice / Moon forms triangle with Porrima and Spica (evening)
Jun 23rd Moon lies above Jupiter and Alpha Librae (evening)
Jun 25th Moon lies above Antares (evening)
Jun 27th Ceres lies close to Gamma Leo, Algieba (evening)
Jun 28th Full Moon occults Omicron Sgr (evening)
Clear skies and happy sky watching.
The UK & Ireland Night Sky for 2018
The Summer Solstice occurs on June 21st. Summer officially begins in the Northern Hemisphere whilst Winter begins in the Southern Hemisphere.
Webmaster © Paul L Money 2018
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