It's summer and we've done the first half of the year. So far, it has to be said that the year 2020 is pretty blatant. In this, the sixth contribution from the series "Der Himmel im… " is again about the moon, the planets, the stars, a comet and the sun and what these protagonists show us in the sky in June 2020.
A short review
What's happening in the sky in June 2020?
It starts with a dim light, because June 5 is not only full moon, it is also the second penumbral eclipse of the year. The attentive part of my inclined readership may remember January . There was also a penumbral eclipse and a large amount of clever knowledge. In the warm months, such an event is also more relaxed to watch, because the night temperatures invite you to watch the sky. The full moon in June rises towards sunset and draws a low arc to the west over the southern horizon. In Asia, Australia, Europe and Africa, there will be a partial penumbral eclipse that night. The moon then partially enters the brighter shadow of the earth. Presumably, this event is barely perceptible.
There is a comet in the sky in June 2020
Comet Swan appears in the early evening during the first days of June. Towards the end of dusk, you can see the comet, whose official name is C/2020 F8 (Swan), on the northwestern horizon.
With the naked eye the comet is hardly visible, it will probably be necessary a pair of binoculars, better a telescope to detect the comet. Swan is more like a blurry "star" with a faint tail pointing to the top right.
Planets in the sky in June 2020
Not far from Swan at dusk, the planet closest to the sun can be seen. With the naked eye, the planet Mercury can then be seen in the northwest. Even with a telescope, the surface details of the planet will not be visible, but its crescent shape will be easy to see. Mercury goes through phases like the Moon, as its orbit around the Sun is within Earth's orbit. Already on June 4, 2020, the planet can be observed in the west. It will rise at 20:02 and disappear back on the horizon at 22:52.
Our neighbor Venus, which has dominated our evening sky since November, has left it. As the morning star, the goddess of love will appear in the last week of June in the early morning just above the horizon in east-northeast.
Summer stars in June 2020
At the beginning of the second week of June, the moon leaves the early evening sky. In these darker skies, you can really see the slow transition from spring stars to spring stars and constellations. Look for a very bright, orange star. This is Arcturus with a diameter of around 35 million kilometres. This makes this star almost 25 times as large as our own Sun. Its diameter is 1.4 million kilometers. Arcturus is 37 light years distant. This corresponds to a distance of about 350 trillion kilometres.
What happened 37 years ago when the light visible today made its way to us? I was eight years old, Ronald Reagan was President of the United States, the Internet didn't exist yet…
Arcturus is the brightest star in the constellation Boötes, the hunting farmer, which actually looks more like a giant night dragon. Arcturus is on the dragon's tail.
In the eastern sky , the stars of summer appear for the first time in the evening. The pioneer is Vega, the brightest star of lyre of the harp. Just to the left below Vega is Deneb, the brightest star from the constellation of the Swan. Within this constellation one can easily see the asterism, the "North Cross", rising sideways. Deneb lies at the top of the cross and is at least 1500 light years distant. So here we are looking very far into the past.
In the low southeast sky in June 2020, another summer constellation is on the rise, the scorpion. The constellation of Scorpio really resembles what it is supposed to be. Its brightest star Antares and marks the heart of the celestial scorpion. At the top right of Antares you can see three diagonally lined up stars outlining the animal's head. Antares is an incredibly large star. Earth would still be in the inner core of Antares if you put it in our solar system instead of our sun!
Planets as cat's eyes in the sky in June 2020?
Astrophotography is not for people who like to go to bed on time. For example, around midnight two planets can be seen, which some also refer to as "cat's eyes". The two super-bright adjacent stars are actually the largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn.
If you go to bed on time, there is also the possibility to look for the planets before sunrise. Towards the south-southwest, the two planets are visible about an hour before sunrise. Jupiter, the brighter shining and slightly to the right below Saturn can then also be observed well with binoculars.
And again the moon
The waning moon will pull off a spectacle with Jupiter and Saturn on June 8 and 9.In the early morning hours, our Earth's satellite passes under the planets. On June 12 and 13, the last quarter moon hangs half below Mars, making for a great celestial event!
Solar eclipse in the sky in June 2020?
In fact, there will be an annular solar eclipse on June 21, 2020. But not in Europe and not in America. In most parts of Africa and Asia, there will be an annular solar eclipse. Ring-shaped eclipses resemble total eclipses, but do not create the dramatic darkness of totality. This is because the eclipse occurs during the moon's monthly maximum distance from Earth, so the moon's disk is not large enough to completely cover the sun. With a small to medium-weight telescope, your view of the giant planets improves dramatically. You'll see some of Jupiter's brighter cloud bands and possibly Jupiter's large red spot. You should also see Saturn's ring system much more clearly.
Things are looking up, until June 21st
June is the month of short nights. If astrophotography would also be very pleasant from the weather, you have the least darkness. That will change in the sky in June 2020. Because the sun reaches the zenith at 23.5° north latitude on 20.6.2020 at 23:44. The 21.06.2020, also summer solstice or calendrical beginning of summer is also referred to as the longest day. In our latitudes, the sun rises very early and sets very late. It doesn't really get dark the further east you go.