June 2020

Planet watching

June starts with good views of Mercury, especially in the northern hemisphere. It’s at greatest elongation on the 4th. The planet is moving through Gemini. As is always the case with the messenger planet, you have to catch it quickly. By the middle of the month, it’ll be lost in the sunset.

Leo is high toward the west and Virgo is on the meridian at sunset. Aquila is rising.

Sagittarius is up by local midnight, followed by Jupiter and then Saturn. The planetary pair are moving in tandem and retrograde this month between Capricornus and Sagittarius.

Mars rises later in the morning hours. The red planet moves from Aquarius to Pisces this month.

Venus is unusually challenging this month. Fortunately, even when Venus is at its hardest to see, it’s not that hard to see. It’ll be too close to the sun to see for the first half of the month. But it emerges in the morning sky by the Hyades in the second half. A thin, crescent moon will be next to it on the 19th. By the end of June, you will confidently find Venus above the horizon before much of the sun’s morning light is showing.


Penumbral – The moon will pass through the outer part of Earth’s shadow on the 5th. The event starts at 17:46 UT. Greatest eclipse is at 19:25. The end is at 21:04. Visibility of at least part of the eclipse will be in Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Antarctica. In a penumbral eclipse, the attentive observer will see the moon’s face darken slightly until mid-eclipse and then brighten again. The moon may appear more red or orange because more of the sunlight reaching it going through Earth’s atmosphere first.

Annular – The moon will pass in front of the sun on the 21st. It won’t be close enough to Earth to completely cover the sun’s disk. Rather, the sun’s disk appearing slightly bigger than the moon’s disk will make a bright ring of sun around the moon. The ring, or the annular phase, will be visible from a spot on the border of the two countries known as Congo, northeastward along the Yemen-Saudi Arabia border, across northern India, southern China, Taiwan, and ending in a spot in Micronesia. Partial phases will be visible from almost all of Africa, southeastern Europe, most of Asia, and part of Australia.


3rd – Venus inferior conjunction 0.5° from the sun

8th – Moon 2.2° from Jupiter

9th – Moon 2.6° from Saturn

13th – Moon 2.5° from Mars, then moon 4.1° from Neptune, then Neptune 1.6° from Mars

17th – Moon 3.6° from Uranus

19th – Moon 0.7° from Venus, then moon 3.7° from Aldebaran

22nd – Moon 3.9° from Mercury

23rd – Moon 4.5° from Pollux

25th – Moon 4.1° from Regulus

30th – Pluto 0.7° from Jupiter, then Mercury at inferior conjunction 4.4° from sun

Greatest elongation

Mercury will be 23.6° east of the sun in the evening sky on the 4th.


Mercury will be at aphelion on the 23rd. It will be 0.467 astronomical units (69.9 million km or 43.4 million miles) from the sun.

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