Dark Skies June Update
With mid-summer solstice almost upon us, we won't get truly dark skies this month, so the chart is timed at 22.00 hrs for June.
Three planets, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are still on show for the month, with Venus moving rapidly towards Jupiter in the sky. Look out for the exceptionally close pairing of these two at the end of June when they will be less than two thirds of the Moon diameter apart. This will be a stunning sight in the evening twilight and will make for some superb photos. Saturn, the famous “ringed” planet, is visible all night, although low in the southern skies. Any form of optical aid will show the ring system, which is actually made up of lumps of ice and rock orbiting the planet, giving it the “ringed” appearance.
There is one meteor shower “active” this month and that is the June Lyrids. Active is in quotes since this shower appears to have gone off the boil so to speak, and scientists are speculating as to the reasons behind this. We used to expect peak rates of 15 or so meteors per hour at maximum on the 15th June, but rates have dramatically declined for some reason. The shower is active from 11th - 21st June so any observations that are made will contribute greatly to our understanding of just what is happening with this shower.
Don't forget to join the Elan Valley Astronomers on the 21st June for International SUN day. It's your chance to safely see the Sun through white light and hydrogen alpha telescopes, “see” and hear the Sun with a simple to build radio telescope, and link up to real time solar satellite imagers in space. Even if cloudy, we'll be linking into satellites and websites around the World to guarantee some solar sights to view. The event runs from 11am to 3pm at the Elan Visitor Centre.