A full moon will illuminate the sky during the first weekend of June. File Photo by Mark Black/UPI | License Photo
June has the shortest nights of the entire year across the Northern Hemisphere, but there will still be plenty to see in the sky this month after the sun has set.
The shorter nights translate to less time for stargazing, but the warmer weather across most of North America in June means folks will have more comfortable stargazing conditions compared to the often cooler and cloudier nights during the spring months.
From a cluster of stars to a celestial gathering on the solstice, here are the top astronomy events to look for throughout the new month.
A full moon will illuminate the sky during the first weekend of June. This event will have multiple nicknames related to the changing flora, as well as the warm, humid weather that typically spreads across the continent this time of year.
Saturday will conclude with the rise of the Strawberry Moon, a name linked to the ripening strawberries across the northeastern United States during the month, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. Other nicknames include the Green Corn Moon, Hot Moon and Birth Moon.
Despite what the nicknames may imply, the full moon will not appear to turn red like a ripening strawberry or green like a growing stalk of corn throughout the entire night. However, the moon could temporarily take on a red or orange appearance when it is near the horizon due to the same reason sunrises and sunsets create colorful displays.
The majority of astronomy events throughout 2023 can be seen with the unaided eye, but a telescope or pair of binoculars will be needed to witness one convergence taking place around the middle of the month.
Venus will shine brightly near the Beehive Cluster after nightfall on June 13, an uncommon celestial meeting that will unfold in the western sky. The cluster is comprised of around 1,000 stars, according to EarthSky, but only a few will be visible to observers -- even with the help of a telescope.
Onlookers who do not have a telescope or binoculars can still spot Venus with ease as it is the brightest object in the sky after the sun and moon, and it will be an integral part of another astronomy event later in the month.
Meteorological summer begins Thursday, and astronomical summer will get underway three weeks later on June 21.
At 10:57 a.m. EDT on June 21, the sun's most direct rays will be focused on the Tropic of Cancer, signaling the official start of summer north of the equator. Additionally, this will be the longest day of the year in terms of the amount of daylight.
In the Southern Hemisphere, the June solstice signals the start of astronomical winter.
The amount of daylight across the Northern Hemisphere each day will start to decrease gradually following the solstice, while the nights become longer once again. This is a slow process, but the days will continue to become shorter and shorter until the winter solstice on Dec. 21.
Although the night after the solstice takes place is the shortest of the entire year, there will still be an astronomy event to spot in the sky.
The crescent moon will join Venus and Mars in the western sky after nightfall on June 21, an easy-to-see event for summertime stargazers. It will be similar to the gathering of the same three celestial objects in late May, although the two planets will appear closer to each other in June.
Venus and Mars will continue to become progressively closer in the evening sky until the start of July, when they will reach conjunction, the closest they will appear in the sky until February of 2024.