Venus is the first planet to emerge after sunset this month, low in the western sky and bright enough to be seen even in late twilight. It will not set until after 10 pm local time. Look for a slender crescent Moon just beneath Venus on June 11th.
Mars begins the month near Gemini’s 2 brightest stars, Castor and Pollux, low in the western sky, but it appears to move into Cancer the crab later. On June 13th the 3 day old crescent Moon will be left of Mars.
On June 22nd and 23rd Mars will appear to pass through an open star cluster known as the Beehive Cluster or M44. Look at Mars with binoculars or small telescope to see the red planet contrasting nicely with the white stars of this neat cluster. Look early though; Mars sets by 11 pm.
Right after midnight on June 1st, Saturn will appear above the eastern horizon, and by month’s end will be up by 10 pm. Saturn will brighten all month. Gibbous-phased Moons may be seen near Saturn on June 1st and again on June 27th (just to the left of the ringed planet).
Jupiter comes up in the eastern sky about an hour after Saturn. It is far brighter than Saturn. The giant planet reaches a high altitude of 40 degrees above the horizon this month, which is its highest in 4 years. This translates to greater brightness and clarity especially when it is viewed through a telescope. Jupiter and Saturn both offer much to be seen for sky-watchers with telescopes or binoculars.
Spring constellations are at their peak this month while summer stars begin appearing in the East after 10 pm. Spring favorites are Leo the lion high in the western sky, Virgo the maiden, largest of the Zodiac constellations across the southern sky, and Bootes, the oddly-named herdsman almost overhead.
Summer constellations looking east include tiny Lyra the harp (only 6 stars); Cygnus the swan, also called the Northern Cross; and Aquila the eagle. Next month all three of these will appear higher and nearly overhead.
Full Moon this month is on June 24th. Summer solstice, the 1st day of summer, when the Sun is at its highest noon altitude for the entire year is on June 20th.
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