Longest day of the year, plus other celestial treats to watch out for this June

Longest day of the year, plus other celestial treats to watch out for this June

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Now that we’re halfway through 2019, brace yourselves as June ushers in hotter days, early sunrises, and late sunsets.

The summer solstice on June 21—the longest day of the year—will signal the beginning of summer and longer days for the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere, where most of the countries in the world including the United Arab Emirates are situated.

According to the National Geographic, a solstice happens when the Earth is tilted towards the Sun that a big part of it “experiences the maximum intensity of the sun’s rays and has the most hours of sunlight.” Conversely, there will be longer nights for the folks in the other hemisphere (which is the Southern one, in this case).

A caveat though: although it’s officially going to be the start of summer, June 21 will NOT be the hottest day of the year because of various atmospheric factors.

The June solstice will take place at 3:54 PM UTC (7:54 PM UAE Local Time).

Based on the data gathered by the Al Sadeem Astronomy, sunrises for June will be between 5:33 A.M. and 5:37 A.M., and sunsets between 7:06 P.M. and 7:15 P.M.

Earth’s axial tilt during the Summer Solstice (Credit: independent.ie)

How the Sun moves during the summer period. In the image, the Sun rises north of east and sets north of west (Graphics Credit: Stellarium)

Lunar Calendar

Now that nights will be shorter, maximize these precious nights on a New Moon to observe deep-skies objects such as nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies. For this month, it’s going to fall on June 3.

Watch out for the prominent galaxies and nebulae, such as the Messier 53, Lagoon, and Trifid Nebula, as well as the Milky Way band, that can all be seen through either binoculars, cameras with wide-angle or zoom lens, and bigger telescopes.

Messier 53, Trifid & Lagoon Nebula, and Milky Way galaxy band as taken from Al Sadeem Observatory (Image Credit: Aldrin Gabuya, Thabet Al Qaissieh/Al Sadeem Astronomy)

Also, the month transition from Ramadan to Shawwal is expected to take place two days after (June 5) in accordance with the Hijri Calendar 1440.

On June 17, it’s the turn of the moon lovers—or selenophiles—to enjoy the night with a Full Moon. This is the best time to observe all the surface features of this celestial object, including the craters and maria. Keep your heads up as early as 7 P.M. at the eastern horizon to get the most out of the moon sighting experience.

Full Moon taken from Al Sadeem Observatory last April 19, 2019 (Image Credit: Aldrin Gabuya/Al Sadeem Astronomy)

Noteworthy Conjunctions

Meanwhile, two planets are expected to swing close to the Moon: the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn.

On June 16, the Moon and Jupiter will be seen at the southern part of the sky right after sunset, around 7:45 P.M. until 4:55 A.M. of the following day. The Moon in its Waxing Gibbous phase will be 1.8 degrees northwest of Jupiter, which will appear as a bright, white star in the sky.

Moon-Jupiter Close Approach on June 16, 2019 at around 10 PM (not to scale) (Graphic Courtesy of Stellarium)

Planet Saturn, on the other hand, will appear near the Waning Gibbous Moon on June 19, at the east-southeastern horizon of the sky. Saturn would look like a bright, yellow-orange “star.”

Moon-Saturn Conjunction on June 19, 2019 at around 1 AM (not to scale) (Graphic Courtesy of Stellarium)

Planetary Display

Before planet Jupiter swings by the Moon, watch out for it on June 10. It will be at its brightest this month. Why? It’s because the giant planet will be situated directly opposite of the Sun in the sky, which would give it further illumination—this is what experts call an “opposition.”

What’s more, its distinct belts and zones feature, along with the planet’s four Galilean moons, can also be observed using high-powered telescopes. Jupiter will be visible right after sunset at 7:45 P.M.

Jupiter taken from Al Sadeem Observatory last May 5, 2019(Image Credit: Aldrin Gabuya/Al Sadeem Astronomy)

Mercury, which has not been much of a regular in the night sky in the past months, will appear at its highest point just a few moments after sunset on June 23. This is called the “greatest eastern elongation.” The maximum extent of angular separation from the Sun as seen from Earth will be at 11°, as viewed in the UAE.

While the smallest planet in the Solar System will be moderately bright at a magnitude of -0.4, observing it in the sky will be a challenging feat due to the twilight’s glare.

Illustration of Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation (about 11° above the eastern horizon) right after sunset on June 23, 2019 at 7:15 PM (not to scale) (Image Credit: Stellarium)

Meanwhile, other gas giants, such as Neptune and Uranus, can be spotted in the night sky in the early morning hours (around 1 A.M. and 3:30 A.M., respectively). The rest of the planets, Venus and Mars are barely or not visible this month because of their nearness to the Sun in the sky.

References

Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events 2019. (n.d.). Retrieved from Sea and Sky: www.seasky.org/astronomy/astronomy-calendar-2019.html

Calendar of Astronomical Events. (n.d.). Retrieved from In-The-Sky.org: http://in-the-sky.org/newscal.php?year=2019&month=1&maxdiff=6 #datesel

Islamic calendar 2019. (n.d.). Retrieved from Calendar.sk: https://calendar.zoznam.sk/islamic_calendar-en.php?ly=2019

Sunrise and sunset times in Abu Dhabi, June 2019. (n.d.). Retrieved from timeanddate.com: https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/united-arab-emirates/abu-dhabi?month=6&year=2019

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