What's Up: The Sky Tonight


Each month on this page, the Big Sky Astronomy club hosts a video, produce by the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) featuring the planets, deep sky objects and one or more of the constellations that are visible in our night sky at this particular time of year.


Tonight's Sky, during the month of June, 2023:

  • As the brisk nighttime temperatures of late Spring transition into the warmer Summer season's, the short nights of June provide wonderful sky gazing. Here's what to look for this June of 2023.

  • High in the northwest, the constellation of Ursa Major hosts the famous asterism of the Big Dipper, which stands out prominently, even from moderately light polluted urban skies;

  • If you follow the arc of stars forming the handle of the Dipper, from the pan outwards, and then continue along that same arc, you'll reach the 4th brightest star in the sky - Arcturus;

  • Arcturus is the "Alpha" star of the constellation Boötes, the Herdsman;

  • Above and to the left of Arcturus is a nice double star, Izar. Its components consist of a larger, yellow star and a smaller, bluish sun;

  • Scanning left from Bootes, you will see a semicircle of stars. This is Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown;

  • Further to the left is the brawny figure from Greek Mythology, Hercules. Four bright stars at the center of the constellation form a trapezoid known as the "Keystone";

  • Located along a line drawn between two of those stars is the brightest globular cluster in the northern skies, M13 or the "Great Globular Star Cluster in Hercules". Estimates vary, but this dense cluster of ancient stars may contain between 300,000 and a half million members, all packed in a ball approximately 160 light years in diameter. The stars in this cluster are truly ancient - with ages of around 11.5 billion years. It lies at a distance of approximately 22,000 light years;

  • A second globular cluster, M92, lies just outside of the Kestone. It is more distance than M13 and thus appears smaller and fainter in a backyard telescope or binoculars;

  • Looking north of Hercules, we find the serpentine form of Draco, the Dragon. Draco's lower body wraps around the asterism of the Little Dipper;

  • Draco hosts a beautiful planetary nebula known as NGC 6543, the Cat's Eye Nebula. It was discovered by William Herschell way back in 1786. It is the expanding outer atmosphere of a formerly Sun-like star, now an Earth-sized White Dwarf;

  • Take some time and venture outdoors on a clear June night. Enjoy its warmer temperatures while perusing the wonders of the late spring and early summer skies.

Watch "Tonight's Sky" for June, 2023 graciously provided by the fine folks at HubbleSite.org:

We cordially invite you to

"Discover the Universe with The Big Sky Astronomy Club"