Monday, July 22

June Night Sky 2024 – Astronotes

Night Sky June

Summer is almost here so welcome back for another month of objects to look out for in the night sky, with some good weather (fingers crossed)! June has a few things for us to see, first thing being the summer solstice.

Summer Solstice

Thursday 20th of June this year marks the summer solstice. The summer solstice marks the longest day of the year and the shortest night of the year, this is because the Earth’s axis on this day will be most directly inclined towards the sun, giving the northern hemisphere plenty of sunshine. The solstice occurs when the Sun reaches its highest point in the sky at noon. This point is called the Tropic of Cancer (23.5 degrees North latitude). On this day, the Sun appears to stand still at its most northern point before reversing direction.

Many cultures have celebrated the summer solstice for centuries. Ancient civilizations like the Egyptians and the Druids at Stonehenge built monuments aligned with the solstice sunrise. In the more modern world, people continue to mark the solstice with festivals, music, dancing, and rituals celebrating nature and the peak of summer.


The Strawberry Moon

The term “Strawberry Moon” is a traditional name for the full moon that occurs in June. This name originates from Native American tribes, particularly the Algonquin tribes, who used it to mark the season for gathering ripe strawberries. Although strawberries might not be the main crop in every region, the term means a sense of early summer and the natural changes that occur during this time of the year.

Image Credit: NASA


Throughout the month of June, you will be able to observe the ‘Summer Triangle’. The Summer Triangle is an asterism, which means it’s a smaller group of stars that don’t make an official constellation. The Summer Triangle consists of three bright stars, Deneb, Vega and Altair. Each star here belongs to their own individual constellation.

Image Credit: Stellarium


Cygnus the Swan

Imagine looking up at the night sky and seeing a magical swan flying among the stars. This swan is called Cygnus, which means “swan” in Latin. Cygnus the constellation looks like a swan spreading its wings. Deneb is the brightest star found in Cygnus and this star marks the tail of swan. It is the 19th brightest star in the night sky. The other end of the constellation is a star called Albireo, which marks the swan’s beak. Looking at Albireo, it looks like one star but through a telescope, you will notice it is a binary star system, made up of two stars!

Cygnus is a constellation that has inspired many stories and myths. In one story, the swan is Zeus, the king of the gods, who transformed into a swan to visit the Earth. In another, it represents Orpheus, a legendary musician, who was placed in the sky as a swan after he died.


Lyra the Harp

This harp is called Lyra, which means “lyre,” an ancient musical instrument similar to a small harp. The brightest star in Lyra is called Vega, which is only 25 light years away, so the light we see today left Vega 25 years ago. It’s one of the brightest stars in the night sky and shines with a bluish-white light. Vega is easy to spot and marks the top of the harp. Near Vega, you’ll see a small, diamond-shaped pattern of stars. This diamond shape represents the strings of the harp.

Lyra is connected to many stories and myths. In one story, the harp belonged to the same Orpheus, a legendary musician who played music so beautiful that it could charm anyone who heard it.


Aquilla the Eagle

Aquila, the Eagle, is a constellation that looks like a powerful bird soaring through the night sky. Aquila’s brightest star is called Altair. Altair marks the head of the eagle. If you find Altair, you’re on the right track! Once you find Altair, look for two other stars on either side that form the wings of the eagle. These stars, along with a few others, create a pattern that looks like an eagle with its wings spread wide as if it’s flying.

In Greek mythology, Aquila is often seen as the eagle of Zeus, the king of the gods. Zeus would send his eagle on important missions.


Even though June has longer days during the month, maybe those who are more of a night owl can enjoy the late, late nights for stargazing!