Look up tomorrow! Mars and Venus will both shine brightly in the night sky on the Summer Solstice – here’s how to see them
- Mars and Venus will shine in the sky as tomorrow marks the first day of summer
- It comes just a month before these planets are also set to align with Mercury
- A ‘Da Vinci’ glow may also be visible around the Moon after the summer solstice
Lucky stargazers may catch sight of two planets tomorrow after many head out to celebrate the annual summer solstice.
As Wednesday officially marks the first day of summer, Mars and Venus will shine brightly in the night sky – just a month before they are set to align with Mercury in a mini ‘planetary parade’.
The summer solstice takes place when the Earth’s tilt towards the Sun is at its peak, making tomorrow the longest day of the year.
Venus, Mars and the moon will be visible to those in London as they head towards the western horizon at around 10pm GMT, according to Stellarium charts.
But US-based starwatchers may be waiting a while longer to clearly see the trio as darkness kicks in at around 3am CST.
Venus, Mars and the moon will be visible to those in London, as they head towards the western horizon at around 10pm (GMT), according to Stellarium charts
Two solstice events take place every year, with a ‘summer solstice’ in June and a ‘winter solstice’ each December.
Right now, the Sun is located above the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern hemisphere, which is the northernmost latitude it reaches each year.
Meanwhile, the North Pole is also tilted greatly towards the Sun, stretching out the number of daylight hours experienced by more northerly countries.
On June 21, the UK could experience more than 16 hours of daylight, while the Arctic will likely experience a ‘polar day’ of complete light for 24 hours.
By contrast, more southerly nations will experience their shortest day of the year with drastically less hours of light.
While Venus and Mars should be visible once the darkness kicks in, it is important to bring along binoculars or a telescope to a good stargazing spot.
NASA also recommends checking the weather forecast ahead of time to find a cloudless area.
This should also provide an unobstructed view of the horizon, avoiding buildings and any blaring city lights.
To differentiate between stars and planets, watchers should look for objects that don’t twinkle amid the flickering stars.
The June solstice occurs at the moment when the Earth’s tilt towards the Sun is at its peak, making tomorrow the longest day of the year
Reports suggest that many will also get the chance to view the Moon’s eerie Da Vinci glow
But if you miss out on the spectacle – don’t worry.
Another spectacle will take place in the coming days, with the Moon expected to give off an eerie Da Vinci glow.
This phenomenon is aptly named after the acclaimed Italian researcher who solved its mystery more than 500 years ago.
It takes place when sunlight is reflected from Earth onto the Moon’s surface, then once more into our eyes.
Professor Don Pollacco, University of Warwick Department of Physics, explained: ‘When the Moon is a thin crescent you can often see the dark part of moon shining faintly.
‘At first glance this may seem quite mysterious as the crescent is the part of the Moon that is illuminated by the sun – so where does the light from the unilluminated part of the Moon come from?
‘In fact what we are seeing is light from the Earth being reflected back from the Moon! Hence the name Earthshine.’
The phases of the moon
Like Earth, the Moon has a day side and a night side, which change as the Moon rotates.
The Sun always illuminates half of the Moon while the other half remains dark, but how much we are able to see of that illuminated half changes as the Moon travels through its orbit.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the phases of the moon are:
1. New Moon
This is the invisible phase of the Moon, with the illuminated side of the Moon facing the Sun and the night side facing Earth.
2. Waxing crescent
This silver sliver of a Moon occurs when the illuminated half of the Moon faces mostly away from Earth, with only a tiny portion visible to us from our planet.
3. First Quarter
The Moon is now a quarter of the way through its monthly journey and you see half of its illuminated side.
4. Waxing Gibbous
Now most of the Moon’s dayside has come into view, and the Moon appears brighter in the sky.
5. Full Moon
This is as close as we come to seeing the Sun’s illumination of the entire day side of the Moon.
6. Waning Gibbous
As the Moon begins its journey back toward the Sun, the opposite side of the Moon now reflects the Moon’s light.
7. Last Quarter
The Moon looks like it’s half illuminated from the perspective of Earth, but really you’re seeing half of the half of the Moon that’s illuminated by the Sun ― or a quarter.
8. Waning Crescent
The Moon is nearly back to the point in its orbit where its dayside directly faces the Sun, and all that we see from our perspective is a thin curve.
Read the full article here