Dark Skies Dorset

“This Doesn’t Bode Well!”

We’re now at that point in the year where astronomical darkness is not achieved during
the night, making it quite challenging for astrophotographers to capture the amount of data required to create highly detailed images. I had tried to capture M13, the Great Globular cluster mentioned below, but alas, as is often the case, things didn’t quite go to plan! So instead, I thought I’d stick with the galaxy theme again:


M81 ‘Bode’s Galaxy’ is at the bottom of the image, with M82 ‘The Cigar Galaxy’ at the top. M81 is a grand design spiral galaxy with a diameter of 90,000 light years and M82 is a starburst galaxy. Discovered by the German astronomer Johann Elert Bode in 1774, M81 is one of the brightest galaxies in the night sky. Both are approximately 11.6 million light-years away and can be found in the constellation Ursa Major – very visible at this time of year using binoculars or a small telescope. This was the first image I captured using my larger telescope, a Skywatcher 200 PDS Newtonian Reflector, other brands are available of course!


This telescope has a focal length of 1000mm which allows me to see deep sky objects including galaxies in greater detail! The image was shot in January using a DSLR camera attached to the telescope. I took different exposure lengths of 5, 3 and 1 minute exposures which gave me 2 hours of data.

The Night Sky, June 2021: what you can see this month:


We’ll be treated to an annular solar eclipse this month on June
10th, which we’ve not seen in the UK since 2015. It won’t be a total eclipse, but the moon will appear to bite a chunk out of the Sun beginning at 10:08am and will cover a maximum of 25% of the Suns surface at 11:13am.


If you or your little ones plan to observe the eclipse, don’t forget to wear appropriate eclipse glasses to enjoy the event safely!


During the darkest point of the night throughout the month, using binoculars, look high towards the South in the constellation Hercules and you may glimpse a gentle glowing ball of light. Through a telescope,
you’ll discover its true identity, a cluster of almost a million stars, known as M13. This globular cluster is residence to some of the oldest objects in our galaxy, dating back 13 billion years. Although we’re experiencing very short periods of night at this time of year, it’s still a great opportunity to turn your attentions to the moon and planets within our solar system.


Venus, Jupiter and Saturn can all be observed throughout the month. On June 11th, soon after sunset, look towards the lower right of Venus to spot the narrowest crescent Moon. On the 12th, the crescent Moon lies above Venus, with Mars lying to the upper left. On the 13th June, Mars appears as a reddish ‘star’ next to the Moon, with Venus down to the lower right. Mars starts off the month near Castor and Pollux, and moves from Gemini into Cancer.
The summer solstice begins on June 21st at 4:52am, the day the Sun reaches its most northerly point in the sky, marking Midsummers Day, with daylight lasting 16 hours and 38 minutes.


On the 23rd June, look towards the Praesepe (Beehive) star cluster to enjoy Mars engulfed within its midst. Although it will be low in the evening twilight, grab a pair of binoculars or a small telescope to enjoy its
beauty!
On the 27th, 28th and 29th June at 2am, you’ll see the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn in close proximity with Jupiter appearing to pass very close on the 29th. Noctilucent Clouds may be visible at twilight looking north. These spooky-looking clouds glow a blue-white and are illuminated by the Sun after it has set.

By: Rob Nolan RPN Photography

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