Here’s a calendar of astronomy events happening in a sky near you this month!
All times Eastern Daylight and based on Northern Hemisphere viewing:
June 1 — First Quarter Moon, 8:42 a.m. In this phase, one-half of the Moon appears illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is increasing.
June 3 — Venus is at its greatest western elongation, farthest from the Sun. Also head outside to spot this Close Encounter: look to the south after sunset to see the waxing gibbous Moon just 2 degrees north of Jupiter. The Moon and Jupiter will be two brightest and the first objects out at dusk. The bright star Spica in the constellation Virgo, will also join the pair, below them and to the left.
June 4 — Look to the east after the Sun sets to see this trio: the waxing gibbous Moon with the star Spica below it; to the right is Jupiter.
June 8 — Moon is at apogee, its farthest point from Earth. An easy way to remember: Apogee = Away
June 9 — Full Strawberry Moon at 9:10 a.m. The visible Moon is fully illuminated by direct sunlight. Though the Moon is only technically in this phase for a few seconds, it is considered “full” for the entire day of the event, and appears full for three days.
See how this Moon got its name in this short Farmers’ Almanac video:
The Year’s Smallest Moon – When the full Moon rises on June 9th, it will be just past apogee — its farthest point from Earth, at a distance of 252,526 miles. It will, in fact, be the smallest (to us) full Moon of 2017. See if you can detect its smaller-than-normal size that night. Compared to the so-called “Supermoon” of last November 14th, the June full Moon will appear 12.3 percent smaller.
June 9 – See if you can spot a very bright yellowish-white “star” glowing to the lower right of Friday’s full Moon — this is Saturn, and June is a great time to observe it because it arrives at opposition on June 15th. In 2017 Saturn’s ring system is tilted about as far as possible toward the Earth – nearly 27 degrees. If you own a telescope, but have yet never seen Saturn through it, Friday will be your night to do it; just use the Moon as your benchmark.
June 12 – Look for the Big Dipper asterism, the most recognizable star pattern in our night sky. It will be high in the north during the evening hours during the month of June.
June 14 — Earliest sunrise of 2017. This happens every year around mid-June, despite the year’s longest day – the Summer Solstice — is one week away.
June 15 — The ringed planet Saturn will light up the night sky from dusk till dawn today. Earth will be positioned between it and the Sun, bringing Saturn to what astronomers call opposition. In other words, Saturn is opposite the Sun our sky.
June 17 — Last Quarter Moon, 7:33 a.m. In this phase, the Moon appears as a half Moon. One-half of the Moon is illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is decreasing, heading toward the New Moon phase.
While summer hasn’t officially started quite yet, stargazer’s can still spot the Summer Triangle on these spring evenings at dusk. To spot it, look for a triangle that’s composed of the three brightest stars in the sky: Deneb, Vega, and Altair. Lean more about the Summer Triangle here.
June 20 — Look to the east one hour before sunrise to spot brilliant Venus and the waning crescent Moon (24% full) paired up in the sky. Hope for clear skies!
Did you know: The Moon and Venus rank as the second-brightest and third-brightest celestial bodies after the Sun?
June 21 — Summer Solstice at 12:24 a.m.. This is when the Sun reaches its farthest point north of the celestial equator. Summer is officially here!
June 23 — New Moon 10:31 p.m. The Moon is not illuminated by direct sunlight and is completely invisible to the naked eye. The Moon is also at perigee, its closest to Earth for the month. A super new Moon!
June 25 — Grab your binoculars and look to the west to see a tiny sliver of the waxing crescent Moon (only 5% illuminated) hugging the horizon about an hour after sunset.
June 30 — First Quarter Moon, 8:51 p.m. In this phase, one-half of the Moon appears illuminated by direct sunlight while the illuminated part is increasing.