Star Diary Podcast: 13 to 19 June

Supermoons, stargazing with Antares and a planetary parade in this week's episode, where we tell you the best things in the night sky this week.

BBC Sky at Night Magazine Star Diary podcast.
Published: June 12, 2022 at 8:00 am
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What's coming up in the northern hemisphere's night sky in the month of 13 to 19 June.


Chris Bramley Hello and welcome to Star Diary, the podcast from the makers of BBC Sky at Night magazine. You can subscribe to the print edition of the magazine by visiting, or to our digital edition by visiting iTunes or Google Play.

Ezzy Pearson Greetings listeners and welcome to Star Diary, a weekly guide to the best things to see in the Northern Hemisphere's Night Sky. In this episode, we'll be covering the coming week from the 13th to the 19th of June. I'm Ezzy Pearson, the magazine's news editor, and I'm joined on the podcast today by reviews editor Paul Money. Hello, Paul.

Paul Money Hello Ezzy! We can have a look at another look at what's going on in the night sky. There's always something, isn't there?

Ezzy Pearson Absolutely. And so what? Is that something this week?

Paul Money Well, we'll ignore the morning sky to a certain extent, because we still got the same old groupings of planets. We got Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, we've got Venus, we've got Neptune and even Vesta, the Minor Planet as well. So they're still there. So if you really like the morning sky, you can go and have a look at them if we want.

Ezzy Pearson We have covered them a lot in the podcast, so you can always go back to previous episodes. Oh, you can always go to the website. Where we have many guides on how to see the planets. If that is your thing and you are interested.

Paul Money Exactly. And there is loads there to entertain you for hours. it certainly does me. So June 13th, the 14th, we're talking about getting closer to full Moon. Now, on the 13th, we mentioned last week, at the end of last week, so on the 12th, Scorpius and we actually had the moon quite close to Graphius and Deschuba with Antares to their left. Well, the next morning or next evening, I should say 11:00 and keep looking about 11:00 because the sky is a bit darker, because it's a bit better than earlier. You have the moon the other side of Antares this time, and this is the one where people will probably notice there's a bright star to the right of the moon. What's that star? And you'll say, Oh, that's Antares. that's on 13th and the moon will look nearly full and it's a bit of an illusion because to the naked eye, sometimes a day or so, either side of full, it can still look full to the naked eye. You need a telescope to really. Binoculars might give you a better hint something, but a telescope clearly show you that it isn't quite full as such. So yes, on the 13th it's to the left of Antares which is the heart of Scorpius. Full moon technically occurs later that morning, about 11:30, the next morning. So it's quite close to full moon, so it will look almost full. But as it happens that full... We're actually on 14th when it is full moon itself. We will actually see the full moon the next night on 14th, that evening. So when it rises by then it's actually moved into Sagittarius. It's one of those things now. The full moon is, as we've mentioned in past weeks, it's pretty poor for crater relief because the light is straight down on to the surface. So you don't get the sharp shadows cast by the Moon or the sunlight shining on the Moon at an angle. But it does give you the chance to see that rays as we mentioned, with these wonderful rays. And there's loads of them. Again, there's lots of guides actually on our website to actually tell you how to find those rays and have a look at them. When you look at the seas, you mentioned sort of thing, you can actually see them. But the thing about this is lots of them and the prominent ones i was thinking of the Tycho, Copernicus, kepler and aristarchus. So well worth having all then. But there are others as well. But the 14th, the full moon on the 14th is also classed as a strawberry full moon. Now, the names of the moons is a bit of an oddity sort of thing. You sort of like a more modern recent thing that we started taking on a lot of these names, a lot of them from the Americas. I think even some of them are actually associated with the American Indians.

Ezzy Pearson Yes, the first nation peoples of America, yeah.

Paul Money Yeah, exactly. So, you know, so this is a strawberry full moon, so it won't look the colour of strawberry. Although if you watch it when it's first rising, you've got the same effect that affects the sun. When the sun setting, or rising and it's very red. You've got the atmospheric refraction taking place so the moon can look reddish when it first rises. And again, if you've got a clear horizon and you can work out where the moon actually rises using planetarium software, you can watch for it. And it's quite an impressive thing to see it gradually change colour as it rises higher and goes from this sort of like, strawberry colour to sort of like an orange colour and then to a pale yellow and then eventually back to a silvery moon. Oh, dear. I'm going to start seeing like Doris Day by the light of the Silvery Moon. Now, that shows my age, doesn't it? Sort of thing. And as long as I remember that film. So it's also not just a full moon in this strawberry full moon. It's also occurring at perigee. In fact, perigee is only about just under 12 hours away from the point of full moon. So we call it technically they're called perigee, full moons or Sti... You know, I'm not even going to try. They're incredibly complex, but the common name now has become in departments. This is the idea of the supermoon. It was done by an astrologer, if I remember right. Now, if I remember right. And it's a bit of a bane between astronomers. The real die hards are, oh, you can't call it a supermoon, but it's the public looking at the moon. You know, it's the popularisation. That's what it is. So, yes, he's not an official title. It will be a supermoon and perigee is so close it's even closer next month. So we can cover that next month as well.

Ezzy Pearson I think the the term that you were you were scrabbling for earlier is perigee syzygy.

Paul Money Think of scissors. Okay, now I know how to do it. Scissors.

Ezzy Pearson I definitely think that Supermoon is a much more snappy title, and that's probably why it's a bit more more popular with the public. But, yes, it's.. I always think it's good to... Any excuse to look up at the moon because it's just so accessible. You don't... You can you can always see it. Like you always said. If you can't see the moon, it's probably not a good day to be doing astronomy anyway. But as long as it's, you know, even vaguely clear, you'll be able to see the moon. And it's always a great opportunity to get out there and persuade people to start taking up the hobby, even if it's just, you know, looking up at the night sky occasionally.

Paul Money Exactly. I mean, that's what we're all about, is promoting the subject, getting more people into it. And, you know, if we can popularise certain things and I think we should take over the term supermoon from the astrologer, we should only we should take over it. Yeah, because, you know, as I say, it does get the public looking out. I do get people asking me about the supermoon and what it is. So I do explain. But the fact that they're approaching me means they're approaching an astronomer to actually talk about it. And I'm sure you get the same as well. But it is interesting. I mean, I think it gets a bit overblown about the size of the moon. One of the one of the sad things about the media is they often blow it out of proportion and say, oh, it's a super big moon this particular night. Well, the reality is, if you can remember the size of the moon the previous month, then you're doing extremely well and you can usually compare them. Photography wise, you can do of course, and that's what amateurs do.

Ezzy Pearson I have seen some really brilliant photographs where they do composites showing the various full moons and they've all been adjusted so that the same size and you can see them getting bigger and smaller. And I think those are really good. So if you're an astrophotography person and fancy doing something a little bit different, maybe there's an idea for you.

Paul Money There is a project, isn't it, to show the size of the moon and the also the thing that people forget is that, you know, perigee coinciding with full moon this particular time and will do in July as well. So it's even closer in July. But the thing is, perigee, it does drift apart. So perigee can occur when these first quarter, it occur also when its last quarter. So not obviously in the same time frame, but, you know, give it a few months and it'll be occurring when it say last quarter. And so you could actually do the same project with the last quarter or the first quarter Moon In fact, with any time, then you can work out when it occurs at perigee and then make a point of photographing it at perigee regardless of what the phase is. And then building up this wonderful project, this picture showing its size difference. But visually, it's very difficult to see the size difference, but photographically it shows up extremely well. So there you are, that's I mean, there's loads of projects you can do and again, you don't need necessarily to have, you know, really dark skies for this. This is, you know, we're getting into the summer skies aren't we, we aren't quite clean. So my book is Light Enough. I mean, there's a meteorologically from the 1st June, it's summer. So there we are. So, you know, I always scream at the TV weatherman said, no, no, wait until the 21st or the 22nd June, but in we get the summer solstice. But no, I understand the idea anyway. We actually find that the moon, of course, has been moving through Sagittarius then. And then we find on 18th and 19th we have a bit of a surprise because what's happening is that the planets do slowly as the year progresses, rise earlier and earlier in the night. So by the time we get to the 18th and 19th, we're actually finding Saturn is rising around about midnight, which I always get excited about because I know that means it's not going to be long before Saturn is in the evening sky. And of course, usually when you get in Saturn rising sort of thing, when the sun sets, that's opposition. That's the time to really get excited. But I like the idea that once it gets rising around about midnight, you know, it's not going to be long before it's rising in the evening sky. So it's easier to actually observe. And although 2am in the morning on 18th, we have the moon either side of Saturn and we often describe it either side of the planet. But this is now back into the morning sky. But say Saturn will rise around about midnight. Now the moon's orbit is below the ecliptic at the moment. So, of course, the moon is lower. So you have to wait a bit longer for the moon to actually rise. But it is now waning towards new. So the phases decreasing in size because Saturn forms a shallow triangle with Delta and Gamma Capricorni and the early mornings of the 18th and 19th and on the 18th, the waning moon joins them. Then on the 18th, it lies just above Zeta Capricornii. But now again, it's not an exciting star but is close. And if you've binoculars, you will not mistake it. You will see there is a star below the moon and this is zeta Capricorni and so you've got this group in on the 18th starting when the moon with Zeta and then you've got Delta and Gamma Capricorn and then Saturn. And of course if you put a telescope on Saturn, you'll be amazed. The rings, I mean, a lot of people's first view, surely. I always think you should be mandatory. The first view through a telescope should be at Saturn because it just blows you away. I mean, seeing the rings, you know. I had a an eight or nine year old at a public event and I ran some years ago whereby Saturn was very low in the horizon. The telescope was almost horizontal. So you can see just above the horizon. But there was Saturn. So he looked through the telescope, looked at Saturn, and then cheekily turned around and says, Oh, it's a slide at the end of the telescope. So I said, Take another look. And he looked through the IP someone and I banged the telescope well because the view wobbled. Now, if it was a slide, it wouldn't do that. So things they fixed, but it wobbled all over the place and it all cool. But he was just absolutely blown away. The fact that you could see the rings because, you know, you think, oh, it's something you could see on the telescope and photographs, visually seeing it for himself, it blew him away.

Ezzy Pearson It's definitely that one. The other one for me was the first time I saw the moons of Jupiter and the first time I saw all four Galilean moons of Jupiter. That kind of idea that we can see not just planets, but the moons going around them. Just kind of like because I am fully aware of just how far away those things are. So it's kind of like it blew my mind a little bit.

Paul Money And you follow in the footsteps of Galileo. I mean, to me, that's the it's the link we sometimes have over the past when we follow in the footsteps. I mean, of course, Galileo looked at Saturn and he saw it's described as appendages. He didn't say ears. He said appendages sort of thing, you know, to Saturn. So we've always assumed he is as such.

Ezzy Pearson They do definitely look like ears. If you have an if you haven't got a good enough telescope to fully sort of resolve the rings, they look like ears.

Paul Money The blobs on the side, aren't they.

Ezzy Pearson Depending on what time of year your watch... Or time of the cycle, because the rings of Saturn do tilt up and down. So sometimes it's just a line. And at other times you can sort of see it quite a good angle to it. So it does actually depend, you know, how how ear-y they look.

Paul Money Which was another proof the planets were inclined, like the earth is inclined that Saturn has a tilt very similar to the Earth, a little bit higher, I think it's about 29 degrees, if I remember, For Saturn. So we get quite a grandstand view of the rings. But as I say, I've seen the ring plane crossings and it's really, really eerie to look at Saturn and go, where's the rings? Yeah, the rings. Because they were so thin that only the best amateur astronomers with the best instruments were able to see that thin line of the rings. That was quite something. Damien Paige is one of them. Absolutely amazing that he took a picture like that.

Ezzy Pearson Look at those pictures, if you can.

Paul Money Yes, definitely. They're absolutely amazing. What did they did an entire cycle through the full season, a year of Saturn, which is again, 29 years for Saturn orbit around the sun. So that was quite an achievement, I have to say. I mean, I'm not good enough at telescope, not good enough planetary image to really do that. But, you know, I try my best. But on I was on the 18th, on on the 19th, the moon, the other side. So I love it when it swap sides sort of thing, you know. But then Saturn is to the upper right of the actual moon itself. So, you know, again, it shows the clockwork motion that we mentioned about the moon going past the planets, but that's in the morning sky. And of course, if you really want to leave it, so give it another hour. And Jupiter, Mars, Neptune and and Vesta. And eventually, just before the real bright... Always be careful. Don't observe when the sun is rising. Just just be very careful about that.

Ezzy Pearson Always be careful with the sun.

Paul Money Always be careful. But you should catch actually Venus as well. So there's plenty to go on. But I just thought it is nice that technically Saturn is getting close to rising in the Evening Sky. We're getting close to that. So but to get it best, it's best to let it higher in the sky. So it's over in the south east at 2 a.m. in the morning. It's well worth having a look at that. And we mustn't forget the now this is the season for the noctilucent clouds, these night shining clouds. So again, keep a lookout roughly from the north east to the northwest, just in case of thing. It's over in the northwest in the evening and drifts through north and then appears in the north east in the morning sky but have a look. You never know. You might see them, but it's close. We should get... I want to hope that we have a good display. Some years are good, some years of bad. You know, we've had some really good displays. The year of Neowise, you remember Comet NEOWISE that was really good. And I mean, I didn't have a good horizon to get the noctilucent clouds and Neowise, which is a great shame. So I was quite jealous of all the fantastic pictures, but that was quite something to get the shimmering bluey silver view of the noctilucent clouds and these comet hung in them as well. But keep a lookout. We won't have a comet, but we will have hopefully some displays. Keep a lookout towards the north. And there you are. Is it? That's another week done.

Ezzy Pearson Don't thank you very much for telling us all about that.

Paul Money Paul is a pleasure and see you for next week.

Ezzy Pearson If you want to find out even more spectacular sites that will be gracing the night sky throughout the month. Be sure to pick up a copy of BBC Sky at Night Magazine where we have a 16 page pull out Sky Guide with a full overview of everything worth looking out for. Whether you like to look at the moon, the planets, or the deep sky, whether you use binoculars, telescopes or neither, our sky guide has got you covered with the detailed star charts to help you track your way across the night sky from all of us here at BBC Sky and Night Magazine. Goodbye.


Chris Bramley Thank you for listening to this episode of The Start, our podcast from the makers of BBC Scotland Magazine. For more of our podcasts, visit our website at Scotland Magazine dot com or head to Acast, iTunes or Spotify.


Ezzy Pearson is the News Editor of BBC Sky at Night Magazine. Her first book about the history of robotic planetary landers is out now from The History Press.


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