June 2024

Evening planet watching doesn’t have much to offer this month. The planets are mostly lined up in the morning at the start of June. It starts with Saturn rising a little after local midnight in Aquarius. Mars is next in the wee hours in Pisces. Next are Uranus, Mercury, and Jupiter in Taurus rising closer to sunrise. Uranus is tricky to find, being dim and with so much atmosphere to look through. Mercury is brighter but closer to the horizon, so it’s a bit hard to spot too. Jupiter will rise closest to the sunrise. Seeing all these planets won’t be possible from about half the earth. The planets rising closest to dawn don’t get far enough above the horizon before the light washes them out. The best view will be from around 12° south. And even from there, it’s going to be hard to find Jupiter just barely getting above the horizon with the sun 10° behind it.

The waning crescent moon is between Saturn and Mars on the 1st. The moon passes Mars from the 2nd to 3rd. Mercury and Jupiter are very close—0.1° apart—on the 4th. Going in opposite directions, Mercury is below Jupiter on the 5th when the moon passes them. Mercury is headed sunward to superior conjunction. So is Venus, which few of us get to see this month. Venus’s conjunction is on the 4th. Mercury’s is ten days later. Still too close to the sun to be seen, the two planets have an unseen conjunction with each other on the 17th. People who live near the equator may be able to spot Mercury emerging into the evening sky toward the end of the month. It will be near Castor and Pollux, possibly making the celestial twins pass for triplets.

Saturn is slowing down in its prograde motion when June starts and then stationary for the second half of the month. It begins retrograde motion on the 30th. The ringed planet will continue to hold where it is next to Aquarius well into July.

Mars moves prograde out of Pisces and then alongside the head of Cetus the sea monster this month.

Jupiter, while rising earlier each morning, continues moving prograde alongside the Hyades V. The Pleaides are on the other side of the planet. Jupiter’s closer to the Hyades.

Mars has its southern solstice on the 7th. Earth’s northern solstice is on the 20th.

None of the planets are at opposition or greatest elongation this month. Mercury’s at perihelion on the 13th.

The moon’s phases this month are new on the 6th, first quarter on the 14th, full on the 22nd, and last quarter on the 28th.

The moon is at perigee on the 2nd at 368,000 kilometers, apogee on the 14th at 404,100 kilometers, and perigee again on the 27th at 369,200 kilomters.

The moon crosses the equator going north on the 1st, reaches northern lunistice on the 7th at 28.4°, goes south of the equator on the 14th, reaches southern lunistice on the 22nd at 28.4°, and goes northward across the equator again on the 28th.

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