Every Monday I pick the celestial highlights of the Northern Hemisphere (mid-northern latitudes) for the week ahead, but make sure check my main feed for more in-depth articles on stargazing, astronomy, eclipses, and more.
What to See in the Night Sky This Week: June 20-26, 2022
The start of the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere (and winter in the Southern Hemisphere) is an astronomical event — and it’s happening this week. It’s best celebrated at sunrise – as is done at Stonehenge in the UK, which aligns with the rising sun on the solstice – but this year there is‘A bonus view just before it thanks to a random alignment of the planets.
A few mornings later, your last chance to see those five planets with the naked eye shine together until 2041, but there’s more. As the Moon wanes, we get a short but dark night sky ideal for seeing the arc of our own Milky Way Galaxy. Sit somewhere in the countryside and look southeast in the dark!
Tuesday, June 21, 2022: Summer Solstice, five planets with the naked eye and a last quarter of an hour
Today is the June solstice — summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere — when the sun will reach its northernmost and highest point in the sky in 2022. It marks the first day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of winter in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the days are now getting shorter and the nights longer, which is a relief for stargazers.
Solstice occurs at 09:05 Universal Time, which you can translate to your local time here. It should be worth a look, as Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn — as well as the moon in the first quarter — will all be visible in the east just before the “solstice sunrise.” Great timing, solar system!
Wednesday, June 22, 2022: Moon and Mars, Mercury and Aldebaran
In the early hours, it will be possible to see a waning Moon in the east close to Mars and, just before sunrise, a small Mercury just above the supergiant Aldebaran, the brightest star in the Taurus constellation.
Friday June 24, 2022: Planetary Parade
Rise before dawn and set your sights on the southeastern horizon and you’ll be able to see Mercury lowest, followed by Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn over a 107º sky. It’s your last best chance to see all five planets together with the naked eye in the night sky until 2041. As a bonus, there will also be a waning 19% lit crescent moon between Venus and Mars.
Saturday June 25, 2022: Venus, the Pleiades and a half moon
Here’s another good excuse to get up early: Venus† the brightest planet in the sky along the most beautiful star cluster to the naked eye, the Pleiades, in the southeastern night sky before sunrise.
You can see that event subtly changing every morning this week. The reason for waking up early to see it today is because a slender 12% crescent moon forms a triangle with Venus and the Pleiades. Look closely and you’ll see Mercury and Aldebaran appear below the trio just before dawn.
Sunday, June 26, 2022: Venus and a waxing moon
Rise again early and be treated to the sight of a slender 6% crescent hanging just 2.5° from super-bright Venus. It is the closest the two brightest objects in the night sky will come together in 2022. What a face! Just above the pair will be the Pleiades, just below Mercury and Aldebaran.
I wish you a clear sky and big eyes.