Sky watching from Glasgow – June 2013

Gaze up to the sky this June from Glasgow or elsewhere in the UK and you could see the Summer Triangle, Noctilucent clouds or even the International Space Station.

What’s more, it’s the summer solstice at 05:04 on 21st June – when the Sun is at its annual highest point in the skies of the Northern Hemisphere giving us over well over 17 1/2 hours of daylight. Bring on the glorious, accompanying sunshine!

I’ll also cover the sunrise and sunset times from the city, and the Moon phases so you can plan when best to look skywards.

The Night Sky

So, if you’re watching the night time skies this month from Glasgow (or indeed from much of the UK) what can you expect to see?

The image below (click to embiggen), shows the whole overhead night sky at midnight on 8th June from Glasgow, Scotland.

The overhead night sky at midnight from Glasgow, UK on 8th June 2013. Made using Stellarium.

The overhead night sky at midnight from Glasgow, UK on 8th June 2013. Made using Stellarium.

With fewer hours or no hours of proper darkness at this time of year it can be more difficult to see the faint objects in the night sky, but in some respects it can make it easier to see some of the key stars, asterisms and constellations. The ‘Summer Triangle‘ is comprised of the bright stars Deneb, Altair and Vega. Visible from even the city’s light-polluted skies this asterism signals summer is upon us – seeing it probably even means the weather is favourable too!

Planet Saturn is in the South West around midnight close to the constellation of Virgo and its brightest star Spica.

Also just grazing the southern horizon is the red supergiant star, Antares of the constellation Scorpius. The heart of the scorpion is estimated to have a radius over 880 times the size of our Sun – plonked into the centre of our solar system its cool, reddish surface layers would extend out well beyond the orbit of Mars. It’s a big ‘un!

The International Space Station

International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA

International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA

It’s awesome to think that right now there are humans orbitting the Earth about 400 km above our heads. Incredible too, that you can spot their capsule, the International Space Station (ISS) in the sky from time to time. The first half of June is one of those periods of time where for up to 6 minutes you might be able to catch a glimpse as it crosses the night sky above Glasgow and the rest of the UK from roughly West to East as a steady, bright point of light. To see the most up-to-date times of visibility from your location, visit www.heavens-above.com, pop-in your location, and you’ll get a table listing the passes.

Sunrise and Sunset times, Glasgow

  • 8th June 2013 – Sunrise 04:34 Sunset 21:59
  • 16th June 2013 – Sunrise 04:31 Sunset 22:05
  • 23rd June 2013 – Sunrise 04:32 Sunset 22:07
  • 30th June 2013 – Sunrise 04:36 Sunset 22:05

Times are listed are local to Glasgow and take account of Daylight Saving Time (also known as British Summer Time or BST).

Moon Phases

  • New Moon – 8th June 2013, 16:57
  • First Quarter – 16th June 2013, 18:24
  • Full Moon – 23rd June 2013, 12:33
    This is a ‘Super Full Moon’ as lunar perigee (the Moon’s closest approach to Earth in its orbit around us) coincides with a Full Moon.
  • Last Quarter – 30th June 2013, 05:54

Times are listed are local to Glasgow and take account of Daylight Saving Time.

Noctilucent Clouds

Noctilucent clouds, Kuresoo bog, Soomaa National Park, Estonia. Image Credit: Martin Koitmäe

Noctilucent clouds, Kuresoo bog, Soomaa National Park, Estonia. Image Credit: Martin Koitmäe

The highest occuring clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere are called NLCs or Noctilucent clouds. Found in the mesosphere (the atmospheric layer above the stratosphere), some 80 km up, these rare formations are occasionally seens on clear midsummer nights from northern lattitudes. Their underside is illuminated by the setting Sun, but the origins of these complex, milky-blue, night-shining clouds are not very well understood.

If clouds are your thing – and let’s face it, who can fail to be mesmorised on a daily basis by the stunning beauty and variety of them – then you’ll definately want to check out the Cloud Appreciation Society and get yourself a good cloudspotting guide.

 

Enjoy your skygazing this month!

 

About Derek Shirlaw

I'm passionate about science communication, social media, and my home country, Scotland. In particular, I have a real interest in astronomy, digital marketing, and the great outdoors.
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