Crown, Hero and Scales
June offers a range of understated but memorable constellations.
After dark, there shines a point of light in the south brighter than anything else in the sky. This is Jupiter, which is currently in the constellation Libra. This was introduced in Rome at the time of Caesar as a separate constellation. It represents the Roman scales of justice. Its stars were originally associated with Scorpio and symbolized its scissors. The northernmost star of Libra is Alpha Librae, a beautiful double star. If the sky is clear and you have very good eyesight, you can already see its two components with the naked eye, otherwise a small pair of binoculars will help. However, visibility is somewhat limited by Jupiter at the moment. Alpha Librae is also known as Zubenelgenubi. The name comes from Arabic and means southern claw. Beta Librae is also called Zubeneschemali, northern claw.
Another, rather inconspicuous constellation is Hercules. This is the name of the most famous hero of Greek legends and he was the godfather of one of the oldest constellations. On our overview map he is in the southwest, almost at the top of the zenith. You can spot him about two-thirds of the way from bright Arcturus in the Bear Keeper to Vega in the Lyre.
He's not easy to spot because he's on his knees, one hand swinging a club high above his head. He stretches his other hand forward. It is best to compare the positions of the stars in our picture with those on the overview map. The best-known observation target in Hercules is the globular cluster M 13. With a small telescope you can already see a blurry, shimmering ball. Only in a telescope with at least a six inch aperture (15 centimeters) can it be resolved into many small, glittering lights. Each of these points is one of the many hundreds of thousands of stars in the cluster. The second globular cluster in Hercules is M92. Also a stunning sight in a telescope.
About a third of the way from Arcturus to Vega you will encounter the Northern Crown ("Corona Borealis", CrB). In Greek mythology, she is the crown of Ariadne. She gave Theseus a ball of yarn with which he found his way out of the labyrinth. The crown consists of a semicircle of faint stars, including only one 2nd magnitude star. His name is Gemma (AlphaCoronae Borealis). This constellation contains some interesting variable stars. If you are very lucky, one day you may see a star next to the semicircle that is similar in brightness to Gemma. This is the remarkable recurring Nova T Coronae Borealis, which flares up so brightly that it becomes visible to the naked eye about once in a human's lifetime.
Planets in June
Mars and Saturn are found in the western sky during and after dusk. They have an impressively close conjunction towards the middle of the month, just after they rise the crib, the open star cluster M 44 in Cancer ("Cancer"). The catch is that the whole group sinks lower and lower every week. In the last third of the month it already sets at the end of twilight. In the first week of June Saturn (1st mag) slowly creeps through the southernmost extremities of the cluster, while fainter Mars (2nd mag) quickly approaches from the lower right. On the evening of June 13, the planets are only about a degree from the manger, each on opposite sides. That's about the thickness of your pinky finger with your arm outstretched.on the 15th June, you can see Mars in the center right of the cluster with binoculars or a telescope. Finally, Mars and Saturn make their closest approach on June 17th. They are then about half a degree apart and about 1.5 degrees from M 44.
Mercury rises from the sunset towards the middle of the month. He is then more than 1.7 degrees below Saturn and Mars, just under six degrees below Castor and Pollux in Gemini. Jupiter shines lonely in the south at nightfall. At 2.4 magnitudes brighter than any other point of light in the evening sky, it moves significantly west of Alpha Libraen to the right over the course of the month.
Venus rises terribly early, about two hours before the earliest sunrise of the year. Shortly after she ascended, you can see the Pleiades to her left at the beginning of the month and above her toward the end. A few days later it runs towards Aldebaran (AlphaTauri).
The Moon is on the evening of the 7th and 8th. June at Jupiter. On the morning of the 22nd and 23rd the waning crescent moon with Venus and the much fainter Pleiades draws a beautiful figure in the sky. On June 27th, find the waxing crescent moon at dusk above Mercury and to the right of Saturn. The next evening the Moon will be directly over Mars and on the other side of Saturn. The Sun will reach the summer solstice on June 21 at 14:26 CEST - marking the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere. © astronomy today