James Abbott of North Essex Astronomical Society explains what you can see in the skies above Essex this June.

The summer solstice takes place at just before 4pm BST on June 21 and about three hours prior to that the sun will be at its highest in the sky for the whole year and so at that time, shadows are at their shortest. 

The lightest evenings actually take place about a week after the solstice.

Venus continues to put on a good show in the West after sunset and is joined on the 21st by the young crescent Moon.

Four degrees to the left of Venus will be Mars, although the Red Planet is much fainter than Venus.

Through binoculars or a small telescope Venus is showing a half phase in early June, narrowing to a crescent phase by the end of the month.

Saturn and Jupiter are visible in the pre-dawn morning sky and the waning Moon will be very close to Jupiter on the morning of the 14th.

Full Moon this month is in the early hours of June 4. In the hour after midnight as the Moon crosses the meridian due South it will only be 12 degrees above the horizon.

June usually brings several displays of noctilucent clouds (NLC). Best seen under clear conditions from about 10pm onwards, NLC appear as silvery streaks, swirls or bands set quite low down against the deep blue twilight sky on summer evenings and also pre-dawn.

They form at an altitude of 50 miles and so even while the Sun has set from the observers perspective, it is still shining on the NLC as they are so high up. Their name means "night shining".

NLC are predicted to increase due to the effects of climate change. The above image shows a display imaged from Rivenhall in Essex in June 2021.