Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of June 2022
M92 is located 27,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Hercules, this globular cluster — a ball of stars that orbits our galaxy’s core like a satellite — was first discovered by the German astronomer Johann Elert Bode in 1777. With an apparent magnitude of 6.3, M92 is one of the brightest globular clusters in the Milky Way and is visible to the naked eye under good observing conditions. The cluster is very tightly packed with stars, containing roughly 330,000 stars in total. As is characteristic of ancient globular clusters — of which M92 is one of the oldest — the predominant elements within M92 are hydrogen and helium, with only traces of others, so it belongs to a group of metal-poor clusters. To astronomers, metals are all elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. [Video and Content Credits: NASA, the Office of Public Outreach – Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), JPL – Caltech, Preston Dyches, Christopher Harris, and Lisa Poje] [Image Credit: Jason Boyce, Astromart supporter].
Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of June 2022
Welcome to the night sky report for June 2022 -- Your guide to the constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and celestial events that are observable during the month. Though the nights are shorter in June, they are filled with fine sights. Look for the Hercules constellation, which will lead you to a globular star cluster with hundreds of thousands of densely packed stars. Globular cluster M13 (the Hercules Cluster, NGC 6205) is best observed with a telescope, but binoculars will reveal it as a fuzzy spot. You can also spot Draco the dragon, which will point you to the Cat’s Eye Nebula (C6, NGC 6543). The morning quartet of Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, and Mars continues to shine, though they will spread farther apart over the next couple of months. And the constellation Lyra is easily located thanks to its brightest star, Vega.
The balmy nights of June are short, but filled with fine sights for the backyard stargazer. Look for the Big Dipper riding high in the northwest. Its handle points toward Arcturus: the fourth-brightest star in the night sky. Arcturus is part of the constellation Bootes, the herdsman.
Bootes also contains a double star called Epsilon Bootes, or Izar. The striking pair of stars appears yellow-orange and bluish in a modest telescope.
To the left of Bootes sits a semicircle of stars known as Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown.
Next to Corona Borealis, we find the dim constellation of Hercules, the strongman of Greek mythology. June is an excellent time to observe one of the best-known globular star clusters – M13, also known as the Hercules Cluster. Globular clusters are spherical collections of stars, tightly packed together in their centers. M13 itself contains several hundred thousand stars.
Globular clusters are also extremely old. The stars in M13 are thought to be around 12 billion years old, which is approaching the age of the universe itself. Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, is known to have about 150 globular clusters. They orbit outside the galaxy's disk, traveling tens of thousands of light-years above and below its spiral arms and most of its stars.
The Hercules Cluster is best observed with a telescope, and larger telescopes will allow you to see more of the cluster's stars. But you can also find it with a pair of binoculars, where it'll look like a hazy little spot.
Find M13 in the constellation Hercules, which is high in the east in the first couple of hours after dark in June. First look for the bright stars Vega and Arcturus. Then find the four stars that comprise "the Keystone," which is the pattern making up the central part of Hercules. You'll find M13 about a third of the way between the two stars on the western, or leading, side of the Keystone.
Just outside the Keystone sits another globular cluster: M92 (NGC6341). M92 is more distant than the Hercules Cluster, and looks smaller and fainter through a telescope. An image from Hubble shows many bright, old red giant stars in its crowded core.
North of Hercules, breathing fire on his feet, lays Draco the dragon. Draco’s long body curls around the Little Dipper. Located along the dragon’s coils is NGC 6543—the Cat’s Eye Nebula, a cloud of expanding and glowing gas from a dying star.
On summer evenings, you may notice a curved grouping of stars crawling across the southern sky, among them a brilliant red beacon. This is the constellation Scorpius, the scorpion, and beginning in June, it's the prime time to look for it.
This grouping of stars has been thought of as having the shape of a scorpion going back to ancient times in the Mediterranean and Middle East. In the Greek myth, the scorpion's deadly sting brought down the great hunter Orion, and that's why – the story goes – we find them on opposite sides of the sky today.
This pattern of stars also been seen as part of a great dragon, in China, and the fish hook of the demigod Maui in Hawaii. That fish-hook shape also forms the tail of the scorpion.
At the beginning of June, if you're in the northern hemisphere, the scorpion's tail might still be below the horizon for you, early in the evening. It rises over the first few hours after dark. But by the end of the month, the scorpion's tail will be above the horizon after sunset for most stargazers.
That bright, beacon-like star in Scorpius is Antares, which is a huge red giant star and one of the brightest in the sky. It forms the blazing heart of the scorpion. So look toward the south and use Antares as your guide to find the constellation Scorpius.
Finally in June, a quick introduction to the constellation Lyra, one of the smaller constellations that's home to one of the brightest stars. It represents a lyre, or harp, played by the musician Orpheus in Greek mythology. In Arab cultures, as well as ancient Egypt and India, Lyra was seen as an eagle. And the Inca of South America saw it as a llama.
Find Lyra by looking for Vega, which is the western-most of the three bright stars in the Summer Triangle. In the Northern Hemisphere, you'll find it halfway up the eastern sky in the first couple of hours after dark in June. Vega is by far the brightest star in Lyra. It's the fifth brightest star in the sky and the second brightest in the Northern Hemisphere, after Sirius.
A pair of binoculars will help you see the other stars in Lyra, which form a sort of parallelogram hanging beneath it. It's sometimes described as looking a bit like a diamond ring, with Vega as the diamond.
And that's not the only ring in Lyra. It's also home to the famous Ring Nebula, where a star has blown off most of its outer layers, leaving behind a remnant star known as a white dwarf.
The gathering of four naked-eye planets we've been enjoying in the morning sky for the past few months – including several close conjunctions, is beginning to break up. Over the next few months, Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, and Venus will appear increasingly spread out across the morning sky – so much so that Venus and Saturn will make their exits as morning objects for most observers by September.
Look for this increasingly spaced out planetary precession in June, and note that the crescent moon jumps into the lineup on the morning of the 23rd.
The night sky is always a celestial showcase. Explore its wonders from your own backyard.
The following Deep Sky Objects are found in constellations that peak during the month. Some can be viewed with a small telescope, but the majority will require a moderate to large telescope. The following is adapted from my personal viewing list: "The Guy Pirro 777 Best and Brightest Deep Sky Objects."
NGC 5248 Galaxy C45, Herschel 400 H34-1
NGC 5466 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H9-6
NGC 5557 Galaxy Herschel 400 H99-1
NGC 5676 Galaxy Herschel 400 H189-1
- NGC 5660 Galaxy Paired with H189-1
NGC 5689 Galaxy Herschel 400 H188-1
Constellation: Corona Borealis
NGC 3147 Galaxy Herschel 400 H79-1
NGC 4125 Galaxy P26
- NGC 4121 Galaxy Paired with P26
NGC 4236 Galaxy C3
NGC 5866 Galaxy M102, Herschel 400 H215-1
NGC 5906 Galaxy Herschel 400 H759-2
NGC 5982 Galaxy Herschel 400 H764-2
NGC 6503 Galaxy P80
NGC 6543 Planetary Nebula C6, Herschel 400 H37-4 Cat’s Eye Nebula
NGC 6832 Open Cluster P27
IC 4593 Planetary Nebula P158 White Eyed Pea Nebula
NGC 6205 Globular Cluster M13 Great Hercules Cluster
NGC 6207 Galaxy Herschel 400 H701-2
NGC 6210 Planetary Nebula P34
NGC 6229 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H50-4
NGC 6341 Globular Cluster M92
NGC 5897 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H19-6
NGC 6720 Planetary Nebula M57 Ring Nebula
NGC 6779 Globular Cluster M56
NGC 6791 Open Cluster P162
IC 4634 Planetary Nebula P168
IC 4665 Open Cluster P36
NGC 6171 Globular Cluster M107, Herschel 400 H40-6
NGC 6218 Globular Cluster M12
NGC 6235 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H584-2
NGC 6254 Globular Cluster M10
NGC 6266 Globular Cluster M62
NGC 6273 Globular Cluster M19
NGC 6284 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H11-6
NGC 6287 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H195-2
NGC 6293 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H12-6
NGC 6304 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H147-1
NGC 6309 Planetary Nebula P236 Box Nebula
NGC 6316 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H45-1
NGC 6325 Globular Cluster P169
NGC 6333 Globular Cluster M9
NGC 6342 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H149-1
NGC 6355 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H46-1
NGC 6356 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H48-1
NGC 6366 Globular Cluster P37
NGC 6369 Planetary Nebula Herschel 400 H11-4 Little Ghost Nebula
NGC 6401 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H44-1
NGC 6402 Globular Cluster M14
NGC 6426 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H587-2
NGC 6517 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H199-2
NGC 6572 Planetary Nebula P38 Emerald Nebula
NGC 6633 Open Cluster Herschel 400 H72-8
NGC 6093 Globular Cluster M80
NGC 6121 Globular Cluster M4
NGC 6124 Open Cluster C75
NGC 6139 Globular Cluster P53
NGC 6144 Globular Cluster Herschel 400 H10-6
NGC 6153 Planetary Nebula P189
NGC 6178 Open Cluster P111
NGC 6192 Open Cluster P190
NGC 6216 Open Cluster P210
NGC 6231 Open Cluster C76
NGC 6242 Open Cluster P54
NGC 6249 Open Cluster P191
NGC 6259 Open Cluster P112
NGC 6268 Open Cluster P192
NGC 6281 Open Cluster P55
NGC 6302 Planetary Nebula C69 Butterfly Nebula
NGC 6318 Open Cluster P249
NGC 6322 Open Cluster P56
NGC 6374 Open Cluster P193
NGC 6383 Open Cluster P57
NGC 6388 Globular Cluster P58
NGC 6396 Open Cluster P194
NGC 6400 Open Cluster P195
NGC 6404 Open Cluster P250
NGC 6405 Open Cluster M6 Butterfly Cluster
NGC 6416 Open Cluster P59
NGC 6425 Open Cluster P113
NGC 6441 Globular Cluster P114
NGC 6451 Open Cluster Herschel 400 H13-6
NGC 6453 Globular Cluster P115
NGC 6475 Open Cluster M7 Ptolemy Cluster
NGC 6496 Globular Cluster P60
Constellation: Serpens Caput
NGC 5904 Globular Cluster M5
NGC 6118 Galaxy Herschel 400 H402-2 Blinking Galaxy
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