starry night above campfire

Eyes on the skies — June

Welcome to the Ontario Parks “Eyes on the Skies” series. This space (<– see what we did there?) will cover a wide range of astronomy topics with a focus on what can be seen from the pristine skies found in our provincial parks.

June formally ushers in summer, that time of the year when Canadians leave the confines of their homes and make their way to the wilderness. And stargazing is a uniquely memorable part of our experience.

Perhaps that’s because so many Ontarians live in areas with light pollution. City dwellers seldom see the stars and then, only the brightest ones. But to miss the stars is to lose our connection with the beauty and mysteries of the skies.

Heading outside? Here are our astronomical highlights for June, 2019:

The sun

The sun reaches its highest point in the sky on June 21 at 6:07 am. This day is also known as the “Summer Solstice,” when we can enjoy 15 hours and 27 minutes of light (see the March edition for more about solstices and equinoxes).

French River sunset

In Canada, June 21 is also National Indigenous Peoples’ Day, in recognition and celebration of the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of the Indigenous peoples in Canada.

Sunrise and Sunset times

The late sunsets in June provide people with the opportunity to enjoy spectacular sunsets.

June 1 June 15 June 30
Sunrise 5:38 am 5:34 am 5:38 am
Midday 1:23 pm 1:26 pm 1:29 pm
Sunset 9:09 pm 9:18 pm 9:20 pm

Learn about why sunsets can appear red here

The moon

May’s Lunar Phases are as follows:

lunar phases

The planets

Jupiter continues to rise high in the sky and, by month’s end, is up from dusk until dawn. Click here to learn more about Jupiter.

Featured constellations: heroes and serpents

constellations: Hercules, Corona Borealis, Ophischus, Serpens Caput, Serpens CaudaThis month we will discuss the constellations of Hercules, Ophiuchus and Serpens.

Ophiuchus and Serpens remind us of the ancient Greek legend for the origin of modern day medicine.

For all of his impressive tasks and great power, the constellation of Hercules is actually one of the smaller ones in the sky.

Learn more about these star stories here.

Meteor showers

There are no major meteor showers occurring during the month of June.

Often observers might see fireflies and, for a moment, be fooled into thinking they’re seeing a meteor! However, even though there are no major meteor showers, there are always fragments of one form or another of dust falling upon the Earth. These “sporadic” meteors can often account for as many as 10 per hour on any given night in a dark, moonless sky.

Interested in learning about the night sky, but don’t know where to start?

Astronomy has been formally taught in Ontario Parks for at least 35 years. Today, parks like Killarney Provincial Park have an astronomer in residence program.

telescope looking at night sky

These programs involve astronomers providing daily/weekly programs for people of all ages and encourages active participation to further one’s experience.

Find a star party or astronomer-in-residence at a park near you. Nothing close? Time to plan a road trip!

Come back next month to learn about the Summer Triangle!