For lovers of summer in the northern hemisphere, June is a great month. The solstice, when daylight is longest, comes on the 21st at 5:14 a.m. EDT. On the June solstice, the midday sun passes directly in the sky from anywhere along the Tropic of Cancer, which extends around our planet at 23 degrees north latitude. But if you love to enjoy the night sky, this is a simple month because the nights are very short.
This would be a month without bright comets, no powerful meteor showers, and no solar or lunar eclipses. Yet something else rare and universal will happen. If you’ve been a regular listener of the Sky Tour, you know that the planets put on a great show in the pre-dawn sky. This month their performance is at its peak.
Starting around June 4, fast-moving Mercury begins climbing up into the eastern sky before dawn, joining four other planets that already exist. Remarkably, these five worlds will appear in the sky in the same order as their orbital sequence to the outside of the sun! Mercury is at its lowest, then sweeps across Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn toward its upper right. On the fourth, these will be the quintet closest together, packed within an arc of sky just 91 degrees long.
However, Mercury will be very low and it will be a serious challenge to locate it even if you have an unobstructed view eastward. As the days go by, Mercury climbs higher in the sky and gets brighter. On June 24, the chain of five planets will be a little longer – but locating Mercury will be much easier. As an added bonus, on that morning there will be a thin crescent moon between Venus and Mars.
Meanwhile, June is an excellent month to spot a dim but famous constellation centered between the bright stars Spica in the southwest and Antares in the southeast. Do you know which one it is? Listen to this month’s Sky Tour podcast to find out. (Hint: it has two stars with tongue-in-cheek Arabic names!)
Meanwhile, our fun and engaging Sky Tour describes how to find many of the season’s shining stars, all of which have interesting stories to tell. By letting our Narrated Podcasts guide you to them, you can have a satisfying and rewarding stargazing session in just a few minutes. No experience or equipment is required. All you need is this month’s 12-minute episode!
#June #Planet #Baloosa #dawn