Summer Stars Over the Queen City

Discovery Place Nature

Although the sun sets much later in the summer, it is still a great time to observe the night sky. The cold nights of winter are long gone and stargazing may be done in shorts and a tank top this time of year.

The constellation Cassiopeia, normally associated with the cold nights of fall and winter, remains visible low in the North this month. Look for Queen Cassiopeia just after twilight. It resembles a wide W and will be found low on the horizon in the North.

Jupiter is visible all month long and is the brightest object in the June night sky. Before June 15th, look for Jupiter to be most visible high in the southwest sky between 1 and 2:00 a.m. By the end of June, Jupiter will be most visible just before midnight high in the Southwest.

Saturn follows the same path as Jupiter and will also be visible throughout the entire month. Before June 15, get up early to see Saturn at its brightest just after 4:00 a.m. After June 15, Saturn will be most visible between 2 and 3:00 a.m. in the Southwest night sky.

Although Saturn is not as bright as Jupiter, it is still the 3rd brightest object in the June night sky. If you are lucky, you may see Jupiter and Saturn at the same time as they follow the path of the sun (meridian), rising in the East and setting in the West.

The Summer Triangle will become increasingly visible as we move through June. At the beginning of June look for Vega, the brightest star in the summer night sky, to appear low in the Northeast before midnight. As we move closer to the end of the month, Vega will appear higher and higher in the North just before midnight. The remaining stars of the summer triangle, Deneb and Altair, are the next two brightest stars rising after Vega in the North and East. Together, these three stars form the summer triangle, one of the most popular groupings of stars in the summer night sky.

This is only a glimpse of what the June sky has to offer. If you have a good view of the Southern horizon look for the constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius. Scorpius very much resembles its namesake with the bright star Antares marking the heart of the scorpion, and the brightest stars of Sagittarius form an obvious teapot shape. Looking at Sagittarius you are actually looking at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy!

And don’t forget the Summer Solstice on June 21st. The sun will reach its highest point in the sky marking the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer.

  • Written by
  • Alden Picard