All information presented here is taken from my book Nightscenes 2021 (pt1)
There will be no printed edition for 2021 but a pdf/kindle version for January to June 2021 is now available from the nightscenes web page. Pt 2 for July to December is expected to become available mid June.
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.
Special: Partial Solar Eclipse on June 10th.
Solar System quick summary
Some charts & images in the text can also be clicked to give a larger view.
Mars and Venus lie low in the evening twilight all month as Venus slowly edges closer to the red planet. Vesta also lies in the early evening sky and passes under the galaxy group of the Leo triplet from the 9th to 12th but is getting low in the west and in lighter skies too. In the morning sky we have Saturn, then Jupiter, rising by midnight towards the end of the month. Neptune also becomes easier to view late in the night despite the light nights and Uranus too becomes viewable before dawn late in the month. Mercury is too close to the solar glare for viewing. There is a partial solar eclipse for the UK/Ireland on June 10th.
Well, the Mars apparition is almost over for a while but it clings on and as it slides into the bright evening twilight it is joined by the much brighter Venus over in the NW skies just above the horizon at around 10:30pm.
On June 1st (above) at that time we find Gemini as the backdrop and on the left looks like Pollux is playing basketball with Mars whilst at lower right Castor is about to kick Venus. It’s this time of year as Gemini also heads towards the horizon that it actually does look like two people standing up.
It doesn’t take long for Gemini to slip into and be almost lost to view as we see in the chart below which is set for June 30th at 10:30pm. Both planets will then lie wither side of the centre of Cancer but its stars will probably be too faint to spot. Castor and Pollux will lie low down but just about visible in the bright twilight sky.
It is difficult to show both the stars and the planets through the course of a month on a still chart as the stars will appear to slide down to the lower right and confuse the issue. In the chart below the motion of just the planets with respect to the horizon set for 10:30pm are shown and illustrates how Venus remains fairly low down whilst Mars slides down towards the horizon with each passing day. As the sky gets lighter moving into summer then Mars appears to fade as the twilight begins to overwhelm it.
The moon joins them during this time. On the 11th the very slim crescent moon will be difficult to spot, very low down in the NW with Venus to its left which may help you to spot it. On the 12th the moon will be easier with Venus to the lower right and Mars to upper left. Finally on the 13th it will lie close to Mars. Note the moon is shown 2x normal size here.
In bright evening twilight from June 21st to 25th watch as Mars moves through the open cluster M44, the Beehive cluster. It lies right in the cluster on the evening of the 23rd and you will need a good clear, uncluttered horizon as Mars and the cluster will only be a few degrees above the horizon. The chart here is set for 11pm and you can use the charts on the previous page to home in on Mars and then the cluster. The light nights may make the Beehive difficult to spot being so low but binoculars and or a telescope will improve the view.
Before we lose it, time to have a final look at the minor planet Vesta before the light summer nights and its low position in Leo overwhelm it. Vesta, shining at mag 7.6 can be spotted in binoculars looking towards the west, close to and passing under the triangle part of Leo. This is made up of Denebola, Chertan and Zosma as shown on the chart which is set for 11pm. Vesta lies near to Chertan, Theta Leonis on Jun 1st then passes close to mag 5.3 73 Leonis on the 7th and 8th.
It passes below the Messier Galaxies of M65 and M66 in Leo as seen above from the 9th to 12th being closest to M65 on the 10th so that will help you home in on its location as will the positions of the two galaxies.
Technically there are three galaxies with the fainter NGC 3628 lying above the two Messier galaxies giving rise to the nickname of the Leo triplet. So, as the minor planet moves past them this will make an interesting project for budding astro-
Now to the two bright planets of the morning sky, Jupiter and Saturn (above chart). The moon lies to the lower right of Jupiter on the 1st and is at Last quarter phase on the 2nd and will then lie to the left of the king of the planets. But again the moon has to lie close to the same region of sky (above) at the end of the month with the moon shown 3x normal size. On the 27th it lies to the lower right of Saturn then forms a triangle with Saturn and Jupiter the next morning. On the 29th the moon lies to the lower left of Jupiter to finish that sequence of events. Both planets are rising over in the SE at around midnight local time but our chart is set for 3am when they are well above the horizon and roughly south.
Finally, on the 30th Uranus is in conjunction with similar magnitude Omicron Arietis in the light morning twilight. A good way to find it is to start with Mu (m) Ceti then move up to 38 Arietis and continue on to Omicron and Uranus. They are both mag 5.8 and about 10 arc minutes apart, that’s about 1/3 the diameter of the moon in the sky. Although there is no room to show the wider view, to the left and about level with Uranus lies M45, the Pleiades star cluster just emerging from the solar glare. The chart is set for 3am looking ~ east.
Also look out for the following:
3rd Moon lies below Neptune (morning twilight)
10th New Moon -
15th Moon is close to Eta Leonis and above right of Regulus (evening)
17th Moon lies close to Nu Virginis and also forms triangle with Denebola and
18th First Quarter Moon lies close to Porrima (evening)
19th Moon lies above Spica (evening)
21st Summer Solstice / Moon lies to the left of Alpha Librae (evening)
22nd Moon lies left of Graffias and Omega Scorpii with Antares to their lower left
24th Full Moon lies close to Kaus Borealis in Sagittarius (evening)
30th Moon lies to lower right of Neptune and close to Psi Aquarii (morning)
Clear skies, happy sky watching and stay safe!
Webmaster © Paul L Money 2021
The UK & Ireland Night Sky for 2020
The Summer Solstice occurs on June 21st. Summer officially begins in the Northern Hemisphere whilst Winter begins in the Southern Hemisphere.
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