Summer Solstice | June 2022 Sky Happenings


June 1, 2022
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Editor’s Note: Each month, the astronomers of the Burke Baker Planetarium shed starlight on the night’s sky happenings. Take note of what’s out there for June 2022.

Venus remains in the morning sky this month. Venus outshines everything except the Sun and the Moon, so you can try to find it low in the east at dawn. Venus remains a ‘morning star’ for most of 2022.

Mars is low the morning sky this month. The Red planet pulls away from Jupiter this month.

Saturn is now low in the south before dawn.

Jupiter is also in the morning sky this month. You can see it in the east at dawn.

Distant view of plant earth from within a spacecraft
A window on space shuttle Atlantis’ aft flight deck frames this scene featuring the Atlantic Ocean/Tropic of Cancer area south of Florida, including some of the 2700 islands that constitute the Bahamas. Photo credit: NASA

Spring stars are high in the south and west. A distinct backwards question mark shape outlines the mane and forepaws of Leo, the Lion. Three stars forming a right triangle are to its upper left; they mark Leo’s hindquarters. The Big Dipper is as high as it ever gets in the north at dusk. You can extend the curve of its handle to ‘arc to Arcturus’ and then ‘speed on to Spica’. These stars high in the east and south, respectively, by dusk tonight. Arcturus, by the way, is the fourth brightest star we ever see at night, but the brightest one Americans ever see in all of June and July.

In the east, look for the enormous Summer Triangle, consisting of the stars Deneb, Vega, and Altair. This triangle is up all night long in June and July, hence its name. Scorpius, the Scorpion, is in the southeast at dusk. Sagittarius, the Archer, known for its ‘teapot’ asterism, rises just after dusk on June 1, but is up by nightfall on June 30.

Sky happenings map of constellations
This star map shows the Houston sky at 10 pm CDT on June 1, 9 pm CDT on June 15, and dusk on June 30.  To use the map, put the direction you are facing at the bottom.
 
The Big Dipper is high in the north. From the Big Dipper’s handle, arc to Arcturus and then speed on to Spica in the south.  Cygnus, Lyra, and Aquila form the Summer Triangle in the east, as Scorpius and Sagittarius rise in the southeast.  Summer has arrived.

Moon Phases in June 2022:

1st Quarter June 7, 9:48 a.m.

Full June 14, 6:52 a.m.

Last Quarter June 20, 10:11 p.m.

New June 28, 9:52 p.m.

At 4:14 am on Tuesday, June 21, the Sun is directly overhead as seen from the Tropic of Cancer. This means that Earth’s north pole is tilted as much as possible towards the Sun, making this our summer solstice. On this date the midday Sun is as high as possible in our sky—virtually overhead—and we have more daylight than on any other day of the year. Below the equator, the opposite is true. There, the midday Sun is as low as possible in the sky, and there is less daylight than on any other day of the year. For them, June 20 is the winter solstice.

Clear Skies!

Missed May’s sky happenings? Find them here.

Authored By James Wooten

James is the Planetarium Astronomer at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. He teaches students every school morning in the planetarium, and also answers astronomy questions from the public.


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