The planets seem especially busy this month, highlighting both morning and evening skies. Venus reigns as the Evening Star, and points out some interesting sights in Gemini and Cancer during the month. Saturn puts in its best showing of the year, with Jupiter just past its best. And Mars climbs inexorably across the sky, toward its best appearance next month.
You are here
In the Sky This Month
June 20: First-Quarter Moon
The Moon is at first quarter today. The Moon lines up at a right angle to the line between Earth and the Sun, so sunlight illuminates exactly half of the lunar hemisphere that faces Earth.
June 21: Summer Solstice
Today marks the summer solstice, which is the start of summer in the northern hemisphere. It also is the longest day of the year in the north — the longest gap between sunrise and sunset.
June 22: Moon and Companions
The Moon and two bright lights form a wide, flat triangle tonight. The bright planet Jupiter is to the lower left of the Moon at nightfall, with Spica, the brightest star of Virgo, about the same distance to the lower right of the Moon.
June 23: Moon and Jupiter
Brilliant Jupiter stands to the lower right of the Moon as night falls. Although it looks like a bright star, it’s actually the largest planet in the solar system. It is about 11 times Earth’s diameter and more than 300 times Earth’s mass.
June 24: Saturn at Opposition
The planet Saturn is low in the southeast as night falls, and looks like a bright star. Its luster is dimmed by the gibbous Moon, far to Saturn’s upper right. Even so, Saturn outshines all but a few other objects in the night sky, so it’s hard to miss.
June 25: Moon and Antares
Antares, one of the brightest stars in the night sky, is not far to the lower right of the almost-full Moon at nightfall. Antares is near the middle of the curved body of Scorpius, which is in the south-southeast.
June 26: Delphinus
Delphinus, the dolphin, glides through the Milky Way on summer evenings. Tonight it rises not long after sunset and arcs high overhead. Look for it below the Summer Triangle, which is well up in the east a couple of hours after darkness falls.