The planets seem especially busy this month, entering and exiting the dawn and dusk skies. Venus ends its reign as the Morning Star, dropping too low into the dawn twilight to see. Mars nears the end of its long and brilliant run over the last year as it drops lower in the sky each evening. It has a brief encounter with Mercury, which loops into view in the western sky for a good part of the month. Mighty Jupiter, on the other hand, lords over the sky all night.
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In the Sky This Month
June 24: Last-Quarter Moon
The Moon will be at last-quarter before dawn tomorrow, so sunlight will illuminate half of the lunar hemisphere that faces Earth. The Moon is three-fourths of the way through its monthly cycle of phases.
June 25: Scutum
A small, faint “shield” of stars climbs high across the southern sky tonight. The constellation Scutum represents the coat of arms on the shield of John Sobieski, a 17th-century king of Poland and one of the country’s great heroes.
June 26: Doomed Giants
Three bright stars in this evening’s sky have a lot in common. Deneb, Antares, and Spica are among the biggest, brightest, and heaviest stars in the galaxy, and each will end its life with a titanic explosion known as a supernova.
June 27: Alphecca
Alphecca, the crown jewel of the northern celestial crown, stands almost straight overhead a couple of hours after sunset. It consists of two stars, although they are so close to each other that their light merges to form a single pinpoint.
June 28: Pleiades Rising
The Pleiades star cluster, the sparkly shoulder of Taurus, the bull, rises in the northeast about two hours before the Sun. Its brightest stars form a tiny dipper. Tomorrow, it will stand to the upper left of the crescent Moon.
June 29: Moon and Aldebaran
Aldebaran, the brightest star of Taurus, will stand below the Moon at first light tomorrow. Aldebaran represents the bull’s eye, and stands at one tip of a V-shaped pattern of stars that outlines his face.
June 30: Rasalhague
Rasalhague, the “head” of the serpent bearer, is high in the southeast at nightfall. It’s at the head of the stick figure that outlines Ophiuchus, which looks like a coffee urn. It stretches to the right and lower right of Rasalhague.