The line of planets expected to be seen in June

Graphic from Astronomy

Driftless Dark Skies: June Moon (June 2024)

As we move from spring to summer this month, the sky is only totally dark for the four hours between 11pm and 3am. But there are almost five hours of twilight at dusk and dawn for skywatchers to enjoy. June’s Moon is a great guide to some of the sights.

There won’t be any planets visible in the evening sky until later this summer and fall. But there are six in the morning sky. Two that are easily seen (Saturn and Mars), two that are more challenging and may require binoculars (Jupiter and Mercury), and two only visible with a telescope (Uranus and Neptune).

Look ESE on May 31 to see Saturn right above the Last Quarter Moon. They rise together around 2:10am and should remain visible even after the sky starts to brighten around 3am. The Waning Crescent Moon passes by Mars on June 2 and 3 low in the eastern sky. You can spot Mars to the left of the Moon on Sunday and to the right of the Moon on Monday. On June 5, there will be a nice gathering of the Crescent Moon, Jupiter, and Mercury. This one will be more challenging because moonrise is around 4:15am only an hour before sunrise. Binoculars will help. Look low ENE for a very thin Moon. The two planets will be below it with Jupiter brighter on the right and Mercury dimmer on the left. You may even be able to spot the Pleiades star cluster above the Moon. The Last Quarter Moon passes by Saturn again on June 27, and the Waning Crescent Moon passes by Mars again on July 1.

If you are not an early riser, you may enjoy moongazing on June 20. The summer solstice is at 3:51pm, and the first sunset of summer happens around 8:45pm. As you are watching the setting Sun, turn in the other direction to watch for the first moonrise of summer around 8:05pm. The Moon will be 99% full that evening becoming a 100% Full Moon on June 21. This one is called the Strawberry or Honey Moon. Hope you enjoy it all!

There are public astronomy programs at Wyalusing State Park on June 29 and at Kickapoo Valley Reserve on June 1, 7, & 21.

John Heasley is an astronomy educator and stargazer who enjoys connecting people with the cosmos. He volunteers with NASA/JPL as a Solar System Ambassador , with the International Dark-Sky Association as an Advocate, and the International Astronomical Union as a Dark Sky Ambassador. For more information about stargazing in southwest WI, like Driftless Stargazing LLC on Facebook and find out whenever there’s something awesome happening in the skies.

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