The summer sky is nearly upon us in the Northern Hemisphere and with that comes much more comfortable overnight temperatures. Whether you plan on looking up from a campsite or your backyard, June has plenty to offer.
Of course, you can always catch the International Space Station flying over your city by using this handy “spot the station” tool from NASA, but if you want something that lasts long enough to whip out the binoculars or telescope, read on!
June 3-4: Mercury reaches greatest elongation
Mercury will once again be visible to the naked eye and will reach its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. Look to the West after sundown. It should be on or above the horizon for about 90-110 minutes (depending on your latitude), so the earlier you look, the better!
June 4-5: Strawberry Moon, penumbral lunar eclipse
Before you get excited, this lunar eclipse will not be visible in North America but, just a month later, there will be another penumbral eclipse on July 5th that will. We’ll still be treated to the full Strawberry Moon; named by Native Americans because it marked the time of year to gather fruit. It is also known as the Rose Moon and the Honey Moon. It will appear close to the red supergiant star Antares.
June 6-8: Jupiter, Saturn, and the Moon together
Jupiter and Saturn are hanging out near each other most of this year and will undergo a fantastic conjunction by December. If you’re up late or very early during the first weekend in June, you’ll be able to spot the dynamic duo near the moon in the east (late) or to the south (early morning).
June 17-19: Crescent Moon and Venus in the morning sky
Look east if you’re up early on these dates! The waning crescent moon should appear quite close to Venus in the eastern sky before and just after dawn (starting about an hour before sunrise — latitude dependent). On June 19th, the moon will cover Venus. The event may be visible very early for a small section of New England in the United States, as well as parts of Canada.
June 20: Summer Solstice
Happy summer everyone! The Northern Hemisphere will be reaching its greatest angular tilt toward the sun on this day at 21:44 UTC, which is 5:44 EDT and 2:44 PDT. Be sure to never look directly into the sun without proper protection.
This marks the longest day of the year for the northern hemisphere and the farthest north the sun will rise and set, as well as the shortest night. After this day, days will gradually become shorter until the winter solstice occurs on December 21st.
This does not mean your area will see its earliest sunrise or latest sunset — those dates vary by latitude.
June 21st: New Moon and Annual Solar Eclipse
Once again, you will be bummed if you wanted to see this eclipse in North America. The annual solar eclipse will be visible through parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. For a solar eclipse, we need a new moon. While the new moon is technically never “seen” from Earth, it will mean perfectly dark skies for picking out your favorite summer constellations.
June is not the best month for meteor showers. Both the June Bootids and Tau Herculids only average a few meteors per hour, though they can put on bigger shows at times. July and August are the better months for trying to see some of those “shooting stars.”