June Sky Chart; Northern Hemisphere gazer's guide

June 1-2: The moon is at perigee (nearest earth) at 9:00 a.m., Eastern standard time on June 1, and new 21 hours later, on the morning of the 2nd. The effect of perigee will be added to the spring tides accompanying new moon, so that the high tides and tidal currents will be exceptionally strong on Tuesday, the 2nd.

June 3: The moon passes Venus at 8:00 a.m., e.s.t. today, and Mercury at 6:00 p.m. It may be possible to see the very slim crescent this evening, though it is only 36 hours after new moon. It will be to the left and above Venus in the west during twilight. Mercury will still be above the horizon, much closer to the moon's right, but probably too dim to be seen in twilight without optical aid. All will set about an hour and a half after sunset.

June 7: The bright star near the moon tonight is Regulus, in Leo. The moon moves well to the star's left (east) by the evening of the 8th.

June 9: Mercury is stationary, relative to its position among the stars. It now begins to move westerly (retrograde) rapidly as it moves in between earth and sun. This evening, it will be near Venus (conjunction with the brighter planet took place this morning), but it is too dim to be seen in twilight without binoculars or telescope (put brilliant Venus in the center of the field, and Mercury should be below and to the left, close to the edge).

June 9-11: The first quarter moon, on the 9th, is just entering the constellation Virgo. Brilliant Jupiter, with Saturn close by, is to its left. On the night of the 10th, the moon is past Jupiter and Saturn, nearly midway between them and Spica, Virgo's brightest star. On the 11th, it is the fatter, brighter gibbous moon, passing above Spica, with Jupiter and Saturn well to the right (west).

June 13: The moon is at apogee, the position in its orbit where it is most distant from earth.

June 15: The bright, reddish star below the moon tonight is Antares, in Scorpius.

June 17: The full moon is the constellation Sagittarius, very close to the Winter Solstice, the position at which the sun is located on the first day of winter. Tonight, the moon is just a little to the left (east) of the solstice, because it is full earlier in the day. Its location tonight is also in the Milky Way, nearly in the direction where the center of our Galaxy lies, much more distant than the moon, of course.

June 20-21: The waning gibbous moon is now passing through the constellation Capricornus. Look for a large group of dim stars arranged in a bikini-like formation stretched east and west across the sky beneath the moon.

June 21: The sun is at the Summer Solstice today at 6:45 a.m., e.s.t., and summer begins in the Northern Hemisphere (winter in the Southern Hemisphere). The Solstice is located in the constellation Gemini, about midway between its two bright "twin" stars (Pollux and Castor) and the Hyades in Taurus. At this position, the sun is located at its most northerly distance from the equatorial plane, causing it to move across the sky, in the Northern Hemisphere, in the longest, highest arc of the year. For that reason, this date is referred to as the "longest day" of the year. However, as the sunrise and sunset tables show, it is notm the date of the earliest sunrise and the latest sunset. Although these dates vary a bit with latitude, the Earliest sunrise occurs about June 14 in the mid-latitudes, and the latest sunset about June 27.

June 24-25: The last quarter moon, rising about midnight tonight, is located just a little south of the Vernal Equinox, the sun's position on the first day of spring. Look above the moon in the early morning hours for the "Square of Pegasus," four stars forming a large square in the sky, all about equal in brightness (about second magnitude, or just about half as bright as the brightest stars we see).

June 29: The moon is at perigee again, but the new moon doesn't occur for another 48 hours. The effect of perigee will be mostly on the time of the tides , causing high tides to occur a bit earlier than otherwise, with little effect on the height of the spring tides that will occur on July 1 and 2.

June 30: If you rise early enough this morning, you will see Mars in the dawn above the late crescent moon.

All Month: At one time or another in June, all the planets but Mars are evening stars. Only two of them, Jupiter and Saturn, are bright enough and suitably placed for viewing, however. The others are either too dim to be seen (Uranus, Neptune and Pluto), or they are too close to the sun's position (Mercury, Venus, and even Mars, thought it is a morning star).

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