June is pretty much a write-off for stargazers at these latitudes. Our perennial battle against urban light pollution is compounded by the knowledge that it just doesn’t get dark anyway.
So only a couple of recommendations this month – first keep an eye out for Venus setting in the west shortly after sunset. A magnificent sight through a telescope at a fairly modest 60x magnification, Venus can be seen clearly as a crescent. This feature is one of the many compelling observations that convinced early astronomers that Venus – and ultimately all the other planets – orbited the Sun rather than the Earth. The apparent movement of Venus away from the Sun (and then back towards it again) also allowed the use of simple trigonometry to calculate its distance form the Sun – at least as a fraction of the Earth’s distance from the Sun.
Check the western horizon before going to bed each night this month, and you’ll easily spot Venus at a very bright -4 magnitude.
To the left of Venus, and graduallly getting closer night by night, is the giant plant Jupiter. Over five times further from the Sun than Earth, Jupiter will appear to “meet” Venus by the end of the month as they fall into the same line of sight.
Other than keeping an eye out for these two, I’ll be reading my astronomy magazines, books and manuals, and tinkering with my kit to make sure it’s in tip top condition for when darkness falls again later in the year!