June 2023 is an excellent time for astrophotography, with various targets for beginners and experienced photographers. From planets to deep sky wonders, there is something for everyone to capture and enjoy.
On June 21st, the summer solstice will occur. This is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere and the shortest day of the year in the southern hemisphere.
The Planets: A Celestial Showcase
In June 2023, several planets will be visible in the night sky. Venus will be a dazzling sight in the evening sky, best seen on June 1st from 1 hour after sunset. Jupiter and Saturn will also be visible, with Jupiter best seen on June 15th and Saturn on June 30th. Mercury will make a brief appearance in the morning sky around June 10th.
When capturing planetary details, using a high-magnification lens or telescope and taking multiple images to stack and improve the final result is important.
Deep Sky Wonders: Nebulae, Galaxies, and Star Clusters
June 2023 offers several prominent deep-sky objects for astrophotographers to capture. Some of the best targets include the Ring Nebula – M57, a planetary nebula in Lyra; the Whirlpool Galaxy – M51, a spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici; and the Hercules Cluster – M13, a globular cluster in Hercules.
Moon Phases: Capturing Earth’s Natural Satellite
In June 2023, the moon will go through its regular phases. The full moon will occur on June 9th, while the new moon will occur on June 24th. The best time to photograph the moon’s surface features is in its crescent or gibbous phases, as the shadows create more contrast and depth.
When photographing the moon’s surface features, using a high-magnification lens or telescope and taking multiple images to stack and improve the final result is important.
Meteor Showers and Other Astronomical Events
June 2023 will see several meteor showers and other notable events. On June 7th, the Arietid meteor shower will peak. This is one of the strongest daytime meteor showers of the year, but it can also be seen before dawn.
To photograph these fleeting moments, use a wide-angle lens and a long exposure time.
Astrophotography Tip of the Month: Use Dark Frames
Dark frames are images taken with the same exposure time and camera settings as your light frames but with the lens cap on. They capture the noise and hot pixels that are present in your camera sensor. By subtracting these dark frames from your light frames, you can reduce the noise and improve the image quality of your astrophotography.
To use dark frames, you need to take them before or after your light frames, preferably in the same temperature and location. You can use a remote shutter release or an intervalometer to take multiple dark frames. You can then use a software program such as DeepSkyStacker or Sequator to stack and calibrate your images.