Star Diary: 27 June to 3 July

A parade of planets, Earthshine and a stellar occultation can all be seen in the sky, as we run down what you can see in the night sky this week.

BBC Sky at Night Magazine Star Diary podcast.
Published: June 26, 2022 at 8:00 am

What's coming up in the northern hemisphere's night sky in the week of 27 June to 3 July 2022.



Chris Bramley Hello and welcome to Star Diary, the podcast for 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 27th June to 3rd July. 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. There is Ezzy. Another time, another week.

Ezzy Pearson Another week and another set of fabulous things in the night sky. So tell us, Paul, what's coming up this week?

Paul Money Well, we ended last week with a bit of a challenge sort of thing with Venus and the Pleiades. And we start with another challenge, and it's back in the morning sky again. And the thing about this is that, again, if you're further south, your latitude, then this is actually a lot easier for you. So there's been a lot of talk about this parade of planets. Now, I've been mentioning the parade of planets for a long time, but there's something happening very interesting with this parade of planets. But it's a bit of a challenge for us because Mercury joins them and it's been in the morning sky. But the problem is for us, it's very, very low. It's really lost. I mean, we always moan about Mercury being the one that's always in twilight when it is visible but as good and bad apparitions. And this one isn't a particularly good apparition for us because it's constantly in the brighter part of the twilight. So it's been very low. But the good news is, again, the moon guides us to it and so does Venus, because it's to the lower left of Venus. You do have to let the actual sky get a bit higher. So we're talking about the 27th now, of June. And the thing about this is that the Moon is directly above Mercury. So once the Moon rises, keep watching and keep looking below because a lone star will pop up above the rise. Now we've got the same old caveat we really do need an un.... This i, you really need an uncluttered horizon, without shadow of a doubt sort of thing. Find a gap between buildings or whatever sort of thing. But we are looking roughly towards the north east, just to the right of north east for this. So the key for this is actually to see the Moon first, I suppose Venus first, because that's the I mean, Venus is so blazingly obvious here. You can't miss that. And then to the left of Venus is the Moon. So once the Moon's up, I say keep watching below it and hopefully you'll get these little dots light appear. And if you do, you've got mercury. Now, the thing about this is that we got the parade of planets. So if you actually see Mercury, the ironic and this is very unusual, it doesn't happen because normally they're all mixed up. The naked eye. I have to emphasise the naked eye planets. They literally go in order out from the Sun. So literally you go Mercury, then Venus, then Mars, then Jupiter, then Saturn. So the naked eye planets....

Ezzy Pearson That is unusual.

Paul Money That is very unusual. I actually I honestly can't remember the last time I saw that. I don't think I've have actually seen that when I've been an astronomer. And that's I hate to say this. I mean, obviously, 40 years I started when I was two. I try to get away with that when I do me talks, but it doesn't work, you know, never works. I don't believe me. I don't know why they don't believe me anyway, but that is rather unusual, I have to say. I mean, obviously the to all the outer planets that are in this makes Uranus and Neptune mess the order of a bit Boo. But, you.

Ezzy Pearson Know, you could see those with the naked eye. So they don't count.

Paul Money Could say you follow in the footsteps of the ancients because these are the ones they would have seen. So this would have been quite unusual. So it's well worth having a go at looking at that. I mean, Mercury's not a not at its best apparition. They'd be still in time, I'd advise, because the timing we were talking about around about 3:20 last week. You need to leave it a bit later so the sky will be light and that's the problem. And so we're looking about 3:14. Again, the further north you are, the harder it will be because the sky will be a lot brighter itself. So 3:40 a.m. but don't leave it a lot later because about three quarters an hour later, the sun rises. So, you know, we don't want you watching the sun and getting blinded by that. So we, you know, our usual caveat sort of thing, being safe and making sure, you know, when to stop observing something, certainly if you're sweeping with binoculars. So if you haven't got it within ten, 15 minutes of that time, 3:40 a.m., then after that I would leave it because the sky will be likely too bright anyway. Yeah. So even though it's mercury sort of thing when it is a dot light. So just not to settle on just Venus and the other planets. Miss of Mercury. But it would be nice if you spotted Mercury.

Ezzy Pearson Yeah, it might be one of those ones where some of our listeners might think it's worth going and making the effort to find a nice, clear, clear sky because you don't often get to see them all at once and in order. So it might be some people might want to do that.

Paul Money But as it happens, Venus, of course, is also still moving. I mean, yeah, the planets are forever changing . The nearer planets, their motions are much more obvious. So Mercury, Venus and Mars often make the biggest motions across the sky so we notice that more. Jupiter and Saturn, of course, a lot slower and Uranus and Neptune. But to the naked eye, if you could see them with the naked eye, it would be almost imperceptible, even over a few weeks to a month or so. So, you know, it's one of those things that at least you can see the Moon and Venus does this, and then Venus is gradually moving to the lower left. It's dropping back towards the solar glare. So on 30th, when they rise around about 3:40 ish, you should see Venus directly above Aldebaran. Now again, Aldebaran. It's a challenge. It is a bright star, magnitude one star. So you know, well worth going out and having a look at, but it again is battling the light nights. So Venus is your guide. So where is are the Moon was the guide to Mercury, venus is your guide in this particular case sort of thing, so you hopefully will get it. So that's in the morning sky. But shock, horror. Wow, we can go back to the evening sky, you know, something more convenient. You know, you don't have to get up for this. But... Because the light night, you do have to stay up fairly late to actually see it. And again, we're looking around about 11:00 at night when the sky is beginning to get darker. The moon is new on June 29th, but by July 1st it should be viewable over in satellite, the north western sky as a very slim crescent, very low. It's not far from the Beehive Cluster, but that will be lost in the actual bright twilight itself. So again, you get another chance, but in a more convenient time to see the Earthshine this time in the evening. So you don't have to stay up late for that. So as it moves up the moon will actually move towards Leo and as it does so on 2nd and 3rd. On 2nd, I always think it looks a bit funny because you've got this slim crescent moon, but the way how the Sickle of Leo, the Sickle is this wonderful asterism because there's constellations and then the asterisms in that. And so, you know, we have extra shapes within the constellation that stands out. I mean, the Great Bear, we've got the Saucepan, the Plough, but the Great Bear is a whole mass of all the stars. Leo is the same. The right hand stars form what looks like a sickle. And it just looks funny that it looks like the moon is about to be sliced up by the sickle. So the moon lies to the right actually of Eta and Regulus. Regulus, being the brightest star of Leo. But the way out, the actual sickle is angled, pointing down. It's almost as if it's hovering over it, ready to slice into it sort of thing. So yeah, I mean, well, if you're Wallace and Gromit fans at the moon's made of cheese they are you could use a circle to make a slice of cheese.

Ezzy Pearson Nice Moon sandwich.

Paul Money Yes. A lunar Regulus sandwich. Oh, that would be a bit rough, wouldn't it? Very gritty, I would have thought fairly. So there we are. That's, that's the mon. Now, finally, for this part of the week. Because sometimes we don't have a lot happening within a week, it sells sort of thing. Sometimes it's a bit shorter. We go back to the morning sky because we mentioned last week a comet passing a particular star. We've now got Mars and it passes Omicron Picium. And Omnicon Piceum again is the naked eye star is not a particularly bright star, but Mars is a lot brighter. So you'll find Mars first and then you'll notice a star nearby. And on July the second and third, Mars, drifts south of the actual star itself. So I like I just like these little I mean, again, you can take photographs and you show the motion of the solar system by doing that. So by photographing Mars, you could start earlier, you could do a wider picture and you take it sort of thing from July 1st through to July 4th or 5th and get the sequence of Mars slowly moving past this particular star. So slowly. Actually, it's moving quite a lot. It's quite fast. So, you know, it's quite an interesting thing to see the motion of the Solar System taking place because it's very easy to think that everything's stationary. So I think apart from the moon, most things do tend to be stationary, look as if they're stationary until you get an example like this and then you realise Mars is actually moving, against the background star. So there we are passing, Omicron Picium. July the 2nd and 3rd. So there we are. That's that particular week, though.

Ezzy Pearson And it certainly sounds like there's a lot of very interesting things to see in the night sky, a lot of things in the Solar System passing by, things that are a bit further away. And seeing how our solar system moves against the background stars is always very interesting to me. So thank you very much for joining us today, Paul, and telling us all about the spectacular sights there are to see in the night sky.

Paul Money My pleasure, as always Ezzy

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, are sky guide has got you covered with the detailed star charts to help you.


Chris Bramley For more of our podcasts, visit our website at Sky Night 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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