Astronomically speaking, the previous month ended on a high note with a super blood moon that appeared after more than 30 months. May also witnessed fireballs from Halley’s comet and the rare conjunction of Venus and Mercury in which the planets were just 25 arc mins apart. If you missed the events in May 2021, do not worry. June has a variety of events in store. Let us have a look at the top astronomical events in June 2021. I recommend you download one of these space apps that will guide you to find planets and stars according to your location.
Astronomical events in June 2021
June 8: The Moon at apogee
The Moon will reach its farthest point in its elliptical orbit around the Earth, appearing slightly smaller than normal.
June 10: Annular Solar Eclipse
An eclipse never comes alone. A solar eclipse always occurs two weeks before or after a lunar eclipse. Following the May total lunar eclipse, an annular solar eclipse will occur on June 10. An annular solar eclipse happens when the Moon covers the Sun’s center, leaving the Sun’s visible outer edges to form a “ring of fire” or annulus around the Moon.
The annular solar eclipse of June 10 will be visible from Greenland, Russia, and Canada. The eclipse will begin at 08:13 UTC and end at 13:11 UTC, lasting about five hours. The annular phase of the greatest eclipse, however, will only last for 3 minutes 51 seconds. If you live in the US, UK, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Bermuda, China, or Mongolia, you might catch a partial solar eclipse. A detailed map of the June 2021 eclipse is given below.
This is the first of the two solar eclipses in June 2021. A total solar eclipse will follow it on December 4, but that will be visible from Antarctica alone.
June 12: Close approach of Moon and Venus
The Moon and Venus will share the same right ascension, with the Moon passing 1°28′ to the north of Venus. The Moon will be 2 days old in the constellation of Gemini.
June 14: Close approach of Moon and Mars
After a close date with Venus, the Moon will pass 2°48′ to the north of Mars in the constellation of Cancer. At mag 1.8, Mars appears as a faint evening object above the western horizon.
June 20: Jupiter enters retrograde motion
Jupiter will halt its usual eastward movement through constellations and will start moving westwards instead. As in-the-sky explains: The retrograde motion is caused by the Earth’s own motion around the Sun. As the Earth circles the Sun, our perspective changes, and this cause the apparent positions of objects to move from side to side in the sky with a one-year period. This nodding motion is superimposed on the planet’s long-term eastward motion through the constellations. You can watch this video to understand the concept visually.
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June 21: Summer Solstice
June 21 marks the day when the Sun reaches its northernmost point in the sky, as seen from the Earth. On this day, the sun’s rays fall directly over the Tropic of Cancer. For the people living in the North, it’s the longest day and the shortest night of the year. This also marks the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere. In the South, it’s the opposite: the shortest day, the longest night, and the first day of winter. From this day, the gap between the duration of day and night will start reducing until the September equinox, when the length of a day and night will be similar worldwide.
June 23: The Moon at perigee
The Moon will reach its closest point in its elliptical orbit around the Earth, appearing slightly bigger than normal.
June 24: The last supermoon of 2021
June 24 will mark the last of the four supermoons in a row this year. A supermoon occurs when the Moon reaches its full phase at or around when it is at its perigee. The June supermoon is also known as the Super Strawberry Moon.
June 24: Mars and the Beehive Cluster
The Red Planet will pass within 25 arc mins of the Beehive cluster of stars. Beehive is one of the nearest open clusters to Earth. It lies in the constellation of Cancer and is visible with naked eyes. On June 24, they will be close enough to fit within the field of view of a telescope and will also be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars. Look for them in the west as the dusk sky fades.
June 25: Neptune enters retrograde motion
Like Jupiter, Neptune will halt its usual eastward movement through constellations and start moving westwards.
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June 2021 – Planet Round-up
Mercury will pass in front of the Sun in June and hence, the planet will be hidden in its glare. June isn’t the best time to see Mercury.
Venus recently passed behind the Sun and is now visible as an early evening object. Look for it dazzling above the western horizon as the dusk sky darkens. It sets about an hour after the Sun.
Mars continues its motion away from the Earth and will pass behind the Sun later this year. It is fading day by day and is currently an early evening object. One can barely see its red hue as compared to a few months ago when it used to be a lot closer to the Earth. Do not miss its close encounter with the Beehive Cluster on June 24.
Jupiter is now emerging from behind the Sun as seen from the Earth. The gas giant rises around midnight in the eastern sky. In the coming months, as the distance between the Earth and Jupiter decreases, the planet’s brightness will increase and it will gradually become an evening object.
Just like Jupiter, Saturn is emerging from behind the Sun as seen from the Earth. Both these large planets were at solar conjunction in the last week of January 2021. They remained hidden in the Sun’s glare for the first quarter of the year and are now visible in the morning twilight. The space apps will help you quickly spot the two planets according to your location.
Uranus was at solar conjunction on May 1 as its orbit took it to the opposite side of the solar system with respect to the Earth. The planet will still remain hidden in the Sun’s glare for several weeks to come.
Neptune recently passed behind the Sun and is visible in the dawn sky (in a telescope), rising around midnight.
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