Learning never exhausts the mind
Home >  Astronomy > Sky at Night > What to See in the Summer Night Sky

Published 14th June 2013 by

Summer can be a wonderful time for stargazing and despite the light evenings, there's much to be seen in the night sky at this time of year.

Summer Planets

Mercury will be visible in the evening sky from mid-February to early March, and in the morning from late March to early May. Mercury returns to the evening sky between early June and mid-July, then back to the morning sky between early August through to mid-August. Look for Mercury again in the evening sky between late September and early November. Mercury will be brightest in the evening sky between February and March.

Venus is always brilliant, shining with a steady, silvery light. Mornings in the eastern sky at dawn from early January through to mid-June. Then, because of its close proximity to the sun, it will be invisible all through the summer into the early fall. Venus will return to the evening, in the western sky at dusk from Early October through till the end of December.

Mars, The Red Planet is visible in the night sky from January to mid-July, then shifts to the morning sky from mid Oct to the end of December.

Jupiter is a splendid object visible in the southern sky as soon as darkness falls and does not set until early morning. Using higher magnifications you will see the yellowish flattened disc and as the four Galilean satellites. You should be able to follow the movement of these moons from night-to-night. It will be visible in the mornings from January to May, evenings from May to November, and mornings again from mid-December to the end of December.

Saturn shines like a yellowish-white "star" of moderate brightness. The famous rings are only visible in a telescope. Saturn is visible in the mornings from late January to early July, then in the evenings from July to December.

Summer Deep Sky Objects

The first stunning summer deep-sky objects is the rather large summer Milky Way in Sagittarius, Scutum, Ophiuchus and Aquila. It is a particularly awe-inspiring sight, especially from dark sky sites. To get a good view of it from the UK it is best to travel to a site with a very clear southern horizon.

The Milky Way beckons to a sky watcher in the south of France.

The Milky Way beckons to a sky watcher in the south of France.

Laurent Laveder

Nestled within the Milky Way in the constellation of Sagittarius, just above the spout of the Teapot asterism, you'll find the Lagoon Nebula (M8). It's a great object to look at with binoculars and even better in a small telescope.

About 7° to the East of the Lagoon Nebula lies the magnificent globular cluster of M22. You shouldn't have too much trouble picking it out using binoculars, but for a real WOW, try observing it with a large telescope to see it sitting against the glittering starfields of the Galaxy.

M8 - The Lagoon Nebula

M8 - The Lagoon Nebula

There are several other striking summer nebulae in this region of the sky. The Eagle Nebula (M16) and M17 are excellent targets for 6 to 8-inch reflectors; located in Serpens and Sagittarius respectively. Not far away in Scutum lies the Wild Duck Cluster, M11.

Summer Meteor Showers

Summer is a quiet time for meteor showers, the only one of note is the Perseids which are active from July 13 to August 26, reaching a strong maximum on August 11th - 13th.

Summer Time Constellations

Summer is an ideal time to observe the following constellations.

Summer Deep Space Objects

  • C35 Brightest in cluster - Coma Berenices (13h 00.1m +27° 59m)
  • C36 - Coma Berenices (12h 36.0m +27° 58m)
  • C38 - Coma Berenices (12h 36.3m +25° 59m)
  • C59 Ghost of Jupiter - Hydra (10h 24.8m -18° 38m)
  • C66 - Hydra (14h 39.6m -26° 32m)
  • C69 Bug Nebula - Scorpius (17h 13.7m -37° 06m)
  • C75 - Scorpius (16h 25.6m -40° 40m)
  • C76 - Scorpius (16h 54.0m -41° 48m)
  • M3 - Cains Venactici (13h 42.2m 28° 23m)
  • M4 - Scorpius (16h 23.6m -26° 32m)
  • M5 - Serpens (15h 18.6m 02° 05m)
  • M6 The Butterfly Cluster - Scorpius (17h 40.1m -32° 13m)
  • M7 The Ptolemy Cluster - Scorpius (17h 53.9m -34° 49m)
  • M8 The Lagoon Nebula - Sagittarius (18h 03.8m -24° 23m)
  • M9 - Ophiuchus (17h 19.2m -18° 31m)
  • M10 - Ophiuchus (16h 57.1m -04° 06m)
  • M12 - Ophiuchus (16h 47.2m -01° 57m)
  • M19 - Ophiuchus (17h 02.6m -26° 16m)
  • M20 The Trifid Nebula - Sagittarius (18h 02.6m -23° 02m)
  • M21 - Sagittarius (18h 04.6m -22° 30m)
  • M23 - Sagittarius (17h 56.8m -19° 01m)
  • M53 - Coma Berenices (13h 12.9m 18° 10m)
  • M58 - Virgo (12h 37.7m 11° 49m)
  • M59 - Virgo (12h 42.0m 11° 39m)
  • M60 - Virgo (12h 43.7m 11° 33m)
  • M62 - Ophiuchus (17h 01.2m -30° 07m)
  • M68 - Hydra (12h 39.5m -26° 45m)
  • M80 - Scorpius (16h 17.0m -22° 59m)
  • M83 - Hydra (13h 37.0m -29° 52m)
  • M84 - Virgo (12h 25.1m 12° 53m)
  • M86 - Virgo (12h 26.2m 12° 57m)
  • M87 Virgo A - Virgo (12h 30.8m 12° 24m)
  • M88 - Coma Berenices (12h 32.0m 14° 25m)
  • M89 - Virgo (12h 35.7m 12° 33m)
  • M90 - Virgo (12h 36.8m 13° 10m)
  • M91 - Coma Berenices (12h 35.4m 14° 30m)
  • M98 - Coma Berenices (12h 13.8m 14° 54m)
  • M99 - Coma Berenices (12h 18.8m 14° 25m)
  • M100 - Coma Berenices (12h 22.9m 15° 49m)
  • M107 - Ophiuchus (16h 32.5m -13° 03m)

Leave a Reply

Fields marked with * are mandatory.

We respect your privacy, and will not make your email public. Hashed email address may be checked against Gravatar service to retrieve avatars. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.