After oppositions for Mars in April and for Saturn in May, both planets remain prominent sky objects for sky-watchers to enjoy throughout June. Jupiter, on the other hand, having been brilliant all through the winter and spring, is now moving so close to the Sun that views of it can only be had for a few hours after sunset in the western sky. The waxing crescent Moon tracking through Cancer, Leo, and Virgo during the first week of June points the way to finding Mars, as it will appear just below the Red planet on June 7th, but in waxing gibbous phase by that time. Mars is at magnitude –0.5 on June 1st but fades to 0.0 by June 30th. The distance between us and Mars grows steadily as we move in our respective orbits during the month. Still telescopic views of Mars will remain good all month. Mars is currently among the stars of Virgo in the southern sky.
Saturn is at 0.3 magnitude and among the dim stars of Libra all month and is still a great telescopic object for sky-watchers lucky enough to have a scope. Rings, surface markings, and orbiting moons add to the view of the planet. Look in the southern evening sky, east or left of Virgo and Mars, for it, especially on June 10th when the nearly Full Moon passes just below the ringed planet.
The Moon also directs our eyes to Venus, though in truth Venus is always easy because of its ever-present brightness. Now Venus is at –3.9 magnitude. On June 24th, the very thin waning crescent Moon may be seen just right of Venus and just below the Pleiades star cluster in the east sky 45 to 60 minutes before the Sun rises.
June is not a good month for meteor observers; there are no major meteor showers in June. But one minor shower may be worth a look. The Bootids went dormant after a great show in 1927 but re-emerged in 1998 with 90 meteors spotted per hour. In 2004 another big display of meteors occurred. Astronomers do not expect another big display this year, but the peak night, June 27th, coincides with the New Moon —- the best Moon phase for seeing meteors. So we might give it a try looking northwest between 1 am and dawn on the 27th of June.
Summer Solstice arrives on June 21st at 6:51 am EDT. The Sun then for us in Maryland will be at its highest for the year, at 73 1/2 degrees above the southern horizon at noon. Day length is at its longest and night-time at its shortest at this time of year. Enjoy the extra day light even though the night sky does not come to glory until a much later hour. Full Moon for June is going to be on June 13th.