June has a few special celestial events to add to your sky-gazing summer bucket list, including an array of planets to enjoy.
Throughout most of June, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will stretch across the sky like a string of pearls appearing in the dawn hours before sunrise.
Sky & Telescope magazine calls it the “Planet Parade” because the planets will also be in the correct order from the Sun.
Mercury will be the hardest to spot as it’s the last appearance in the lineup before sunlight swallows it up. However, it is easy to see Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn throughout the month.
In a quadrilateral, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn have appeared side by side over the past few months, but June is your last chance to see the group together before it begins to spread further into the night sky.
Look for planets in the sky before sunrise by gazing at the southeast.
This celestial event does not require any special equipment, but the view will be better if you have access to a local telescope or observatory. Endoscopes can also help improve your experience.
If you want to know which planet they are, know that they are arranged in their natural order from the Sun: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. A sky gazing app like Stellarium can help you identify all the planets.
In early June, Mercury and Saturn will be the youngest in the sky. As the month progresses, the planets will begin to appear farther away in the sky.
Mercury will be brighter and higher on the horizon by mid-June, making it easier to spot.
Towards the end of the month, the alignment of the five planets will add a sixth gem to the show. On June 24, Mercury will rise above the horizon about an hour before sunrise. As a bonus, a crescent will appear between Venus and Mars.
According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Venus and Saturn will be bent as morning objects to most observers by September.
Bonus: Ancient Star Collection on display
Another treat for gazing at the sky is also in the summer this month. NASA astronomers say June is also an excellent month to view the globular star cluster known as Hercules Cluster M13. This globular star cluster is believed to be approximately 12 billion years old.
This group of stars is best viewed with a telescope and will appear high in the eastern sky during the first hours of darkness throughout the month.
No telescope? No problem, look for public observation events near NASA’s Night Sky Network.
The full moon in June is known as the strawberry moon.
The full moon show falls on June 14 if you want to enjoy some time outdoors or perhaps camp by the moonlight. The new moon on June 28 would be the best time to head to a dark sky location away from the city lights to look for your favorite constellations.