The brightness of Venus captures our attention for more than 3 hours after sunset this month, reaching its greatest angle from the Sun as we see it on June 4th. Already very bright at the start of June, Venus brightens even more by the end of June. Looking west; it is unmistakable!
On June 1st Venus will be lined up with Castor and Pollux, Gemini’s two brightest stars, at the top of this zodiac constellation. By mid-month, Venus’ orbit brings it into Cancer and close to M 44, the Beehive Cluster; an open star cluster. Mars, much dimmer, will have appeared to pass through this same star cluster on June 1 and 2. Look through binoculars on June 1 and 2 for this stunning sight!
The crescent Moon joins the scene, when on June 21st, it passes just above Venus. After the Sun, the Moon and Venus are the two brightest objects in the sky! Venus will set around 11 pm on June 30th.
In the morning southeastern skies, Saturn rises around 1:30 am on June 1st and may be seen well up from the horizon by midnight on June 30th. It will become a fine object to see through telescopes this month; although still in the very early hours or morning. Jupiter rise about 4 am on June 1st and by 2 am on June 30th. Increasing in brightness all month, Jupiter will be seen just below the waning crescent Moon on the morning of June 14th.
The Summer Solstice occurs this month on June 21st, marking the Sun’s northernmost altitude (declination) in our sky for the year. For us in Maryland, latitude 39 North, that places the Sun at 73 1/2 degrees above the southern horizon at noon. This officially marks the beginning of the summer season in the northern hemisphere. Day length is at its greatest. Warm summer nights make for comfortable sly-watching even full darkness does not come until nearly 9 pm.
June’s Full Moon is early in the month; on June 3rd.