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Star Trak: June 2019

For immediate release: May 28, 2019

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Jupiter will rule the night sky during June. The largest planet of our solar system will be visible all night at its biggest and brightest, a brilliant white object in the south among the background stars of the constellation Ophiuchus. It will reach opposition on June 10, when it will be opposite the sun in our sky. Jupiter's four Galilean moons will show up clearly in small telescopes. Observers at mid-northern latitudes will see the planet unusually low in the sky this year, but there will still be much detail to see on its surface with a telescope.

Saturn-TitanSaturn's largest moon, Titan, can be seen with any telescope. Image courtesy of NASA

Saturn will rise about two and a half hours after sunset as June begins but very early in evening twilight by month's end. The golden-yellow planet will brighten during the month, shining to the left (east) of the Teapot formation of the constellation Sagittarius. Saturn will be at its highest several hours after midnight, and that is when a telescope will give the best view of its rings tilted 24 degrees to our line of sight. Saturn's largest moon, Titan, can be seen with any telescope. Titan will be south of the planet on June 5 and 21 and north of the planet on June 13 and 29.

Venus will rise an hour before the sun on June 1, when morning twilight will be well under way. Though the planet will shine brilliantly, it will be drowned out by the sun's glare within the next 15 minutes. Venus will slowly sink lower as the month progresses, disappearing from view in early July.

Mercury will appear 6 degrees high in the west-northwest a half-hour after sunset on June 1. Mars will be 16 degrees to Mercury's upper left (west), but the Red Planet may be hard to see in twilight without binoculars. Over the next two weeks, Mercury will climb higher and Mars will drop lower. On June 18 the two planets will appear side by side less than 1 degree apart, the closest they have been to each other in 13 years. This is only a visual effect, since Mars is now on the far side of the sun from Earth while Mercury is on the near side.


The sun will reach the June solstice at 11:54 a.m. EDT (15:54 Universal Time) June 21, marking the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere. For the next six months in the Northern Hemisphere, the days will be getting shorter.

The word "solstice" is derived from two Latin words that mean "the sun stands still." This is because the summer sun climbs to a higher point in the southern sky each day until the solstice. On the day of the solstice it appears to arrive at about the same maximum height above the horizon as the day before, and each day afterward its maximum point is lower, dropping back toward its lowest point at the December solstice. In this sense, the sun "stands still" at the peak of its journey across the summer sky before it starts downward again toward the southern horizon.

Moon phases

The moon will be new on June 3, at first quarter on June 10, full on June 17 and at third quarter on June 25.

Author: Hal Kibbey Email: hkibbey [at]

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