White nights, solar eclipse and the centre of the Milky Way above our heads: this is what the starry sky offers in June
It's summer. At least in the sky - and the undisputed queen is the sun. For astronomers, there couldn't be a worse month, because the length of the day in June is around 16 hours - just two hours (the further north you live, even less) it's really dark. However, our monthly Sky Guide will once again tell you exactly what the stars will be like in June 2021. A summary can be found here:
It gets dark late in June, the white nights have begun and only at midnight is it dark enough to watch the stars. By then, the summer triangle of Vega, Atair and Daneb is already high in the east. Serpent Bearer and Libra can be found in the south, where Antares in Scorpio also sparkles brightly and reddishly.
Partial solar eclipse over Germany
However, this month's highlight will not take place at night, but during the day: On 10 June around noon, we expect a partial solar eclipse in Germany. This means that the moon's disc will only cover part of the sun. The further north you are, the better the eclipse will be. In northern Germany, up to 20 percent of the sun will be covered by the new moon. Our readers in the south are almost out of luck: just 6 percent of the sun's disc is covered by the moon here - so the eclipse is barely perceptible.
Glowing night clouds
Now, in June, you can also be lucky and observe the silvery-blue glowing noctilucent clouds. This rare phenomenon only occurs in the summer months and happens when very high clouds (at an altitude of 80 kilometres!) are caught by the sunlight as darkness sets in.
Milky Way above our heads
Now in June, the starry band of the Milky Way sparkles magnificently high above our heads. From midnight, when it is beautifully dark, it can be seen about two to three handbreadths across the cloudless sky. You should have particularly good visibility around 10 June, because that's when the new moon is and you have the best conditions for your observations. A few particularly pretty objects you can spot with a telescope: The Prawn Nebula IC 4628, an area of the Milky Way where new stars are forming, or the Sombrero Galaxy, a spiral galaxy with a bright, large bulge in the centre.
Two times two: Four planets accompany us through summer nights
Two old acquaintances accompany the Milky Way in the south: Jupiter and Saturn can be made out as bright lights to the left of our home galaxy. However, the two gas giants can only be seen after midnight. In front of them, one after the other and shortly after sunset around 9 pm, Venus and Mars enter the celestial stage deep in the west. Venus leads the way - she is followed, at about 9:45 pm, by Mars. However, with an apparent brightness of only about 1.7 mag (Venus is -3.9 mag), it is much darker and more difficult to make out. And it's time to say goodbye. Mars disappears from the night sky at the end of June and will not reappear until the end of the year, when it will be visible in the morning eastern sky.
Our observing tip: On 12 and 13 June, the narrow crescent of the waxing Moon joins Venus and Mars very close together.
Not a good time for shooting stars
June has a lot to offer, but it is not a good shooting star month. There are quite a few meteor streams, but they usually rain their abundant shooting stars during daylight. The nocturnal meteor streams, on the other hand, send only a few shooting stars. If you are lucky, you will be able to observe the maximum of the June Booids on the night of 27 to 28 June. However, they are a real grab bag: some years they have sent hardly any meteors, then again 50 to 100 per hour.