What can we observe in the sky in June: ephemeris of astral events for the month of June 2023.
June, a month of brilliant starry skies, offers us a wealth of celestial events and objects to explore. With the aid of your Vaonis instruments, these astronomical wonders reveal their splendour. Let’s take a deeper look into the universe’s spectacle, a story of galaxies, nebulae, star clusters, and supernova visible in June 2023.
M101 and the Fading Supernova
Perhaps the most dramatic event of the season is the supernova discovered by Koichi Itagaki on 19th May 2023. After its discovery, the supernova, named SN 2023ixf, exploded in brightness, increasing 44 times over just three days. This supernova, which originated from the Pinwheel Galaxy (M101) located in the constellation Ursa Major (The Great Bear), is set to illuminate our night skies for a few months. Although the supernova’s luminosity is already declining, it will remain visible in Stellina and Vespera instruments throughout June, offering a rare glimpse of a star’s explosive death.
The Lagoon Nebula: A Cosmic Nursery
The Lagoon Nebula (M8 or NGC 6523), an expansive star-forming region in Sagittarius (The Archer), offers a stunning sight. Although dimly visible to the naked eye under favourable conditions, your Vespera or Stellina will reveal the full majesty of this celestial object. The Lagoon Nebula appears as a giant glowing cloud of interstellar gas, three times the area of the full Moon, housing an embedded open star cluster (NGC 6530).
Small Sagittarius Star Cloud: A Stellar Congregation
Discovered by Charles Messier in 1764, the Small Sagittarius Star Cloud (M24 or IC 4715) is a mesmerising sight. Located in the Sagittarius-Carina arm of the Milky Way, it provides a view of thousands of stars through a “tunnel” in the interstellar dust. This cloud’s region reveals over a thousand stars, providing a truly awe-inspiring experience.
The Great Hercules Cluster: A Stellar Time Capsule
The Great Hercules Cluster (M13 or NGC 6205) is a globular cluster that shines brightly in the Northern Hemisphere’s summer sky. Visible to the naked eye under optimal conditions, your Vaonis instrument will start to resolve this glittering ball into hundreds of individual stars. This cluster, containing up to a million suns approximately 12 billion years old, is a testament to the vast age and scale of our universe.
Ptolemy’s Cluster: Following the Scorpion’s Stinger
The constellation Scorpius (The Scorpion) hosts Ptolemy’s Cluster (M7 or NGC 6475), named after the ancient Egyptian astronomer who referred to it as the ‘little cloud following the stinger of Scorpius. This large, bright open cluster of about 80 stars will be observable with your Vespera or Stellina, covering an area almost three full Moons wide.
A Close Encounter with Asteroid 488453 (1994 XD)
A celestial interloper, the Apollo-class asteroid 488453 (1994 XD), will swing by Earth, missing us by eight lunar distances early on the morning of 12th June. This half-kilometre-wide asteroid, while only visible through a telescope at its closest approach, offers an exciting opportunity for those with the necessary equipment. The asteroid will speed through the northern constellation Cepheus (The King), moving at a rate equivalent to the apparent diameter of the full Moon every 20 minutes. Observing this quick-footed celestial visitor will surely be a thrilling experience for asteroid chasers.
The month of June 2023 offers a plethora of celestial sights to behold. From a supernova remnant in a distant galaxy to the formation of new stars in the nebulae of our own Milky Way, the night sky promises to be a source of wonder and inspiration. The vast star clouds and clusters remind us of the grandeur of the universe, while the flyby of a near-Earth asteroid emphasizes the dynamic nature of our cosmic neighbourhood.
Whether you’re an experienced stargazer or a novice to the field, this month provides an excellent opportunity to step outside on clear nights and delve into the mysteries of the cosmos. So, grab your Vespera or Stellina and enjoy the celestial extravaganza of June 2023.