Science

June 2020: Stars of Early Summer – Sky & Telescope

As told in this month’s Sky Tour astronomy podcast, June is a minimalist month for stargazing because the nights are so short. For most of us evening twilight doesn’t end until 9 p.m. or later, which makes it tougher to observe. The solstice, when daylight is longest and nighttime shortest, comes on June 20th at 5:44 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

Planet-wise, almost all the action occurs late at night or in the predawn sky. Venus has disappeared from the evening sky but reappears in the east just before dawn.

The waning gibbous moon passes near Jupiter and Saturn on June 8–9 this month. You can get up early — or watch them rise together in the east just before midnight.
Sky & Telescope

As June begins, Jupiter and Saturn rise within about 15 minutes of one another just before midnight. But by month’s end they pop up sooner, roughly an hour after sunset. These two giant planets appear quite bright and are only about 5° apart, making a splendid pairing. The waning gibbous Moon joins them on the 8th and 9th. Another planet is nearby, rising about 2 hours after midnight early in June and 30 minutes after midnight by month’s end. Can you guess which one it is?

Now maybe you don’t plan to stay up that late (or get up that early). But there’s still plenty of stargazing to enjoy during the evening. For instance, there is one planet — Mercury — that you can spot during early June right after sunset. Our podcast tells you where and when to look for it.

After evening twilight ends, look toward south to spot the bright star Spica, in Virgo. Now look higher up, almost overhead at nightfall, and you’ll see a really dazzling star called Arcturus. It ranks as the fourth brightest star in the nighttime sky.

This month’s Sky Tour also introduces you to one well-known constellation (Libra) and one maybe you’ve never heard of (Ophiuchus), and gives you great tips for spotting them in the late-evening sky.

So give our Sky Tour astronomy podcast a try. It’s an enjoyable way to learn your way around the night sky in just 10 minutes. No experience or equipment needed!

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