What's up in the night sky this month? Enjoy a ringside seat for Saturn, plus night-long parades featuring Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Vesta!
What's Up for June? Jupiter and Venus at sunset, Mars, Saturn, and Vesta until dawn.
Hello and welcome. I'm Jane Houston Jones from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
I hope this month's evening weather will lure you outdoors for night sky viewing!
First up is Venus. It reaches its highest sunset altitude for the year this month and sets more than two hours after sunset.
You can't miss Jupiter, only a month after its opposition--when Earth was directly between Jupiter and the Sun. The best time to observe Jupiter through a telescope is 10:30 p.m. at the beginning of the month and as soon as it's dark by the end of the month. Just aim your binoculars at the bright planet for a view including the four Galilean moons. Or just enjoy Jupiter with your unaided eye!
Saturn is at opposition June 27th, when it and the Sun are on opposite sides of Earth. It rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. Great Saturn viewing will last several more months. The best views this month will be just after midnight. All year, the rings have been tilted wide open--almost 26 degrees wide this month--giving us a great view of Saturn's distinctive rings. The tilt offers us a view of the north polar region, so exquisitely imaged by the Cassini spacecraft.
Near Saturn, the brightest asteroid--Vesta--is so bright that it can be seen with your unaided eye. It will be visible for several months. A detailed star chart will help you pick out the asteroid from the stars. The summer Milky way provides a glittery backdrop.
Finally, Mars grows dramatically in brightness and size this month and is visible by 10:30 p.m. by month end. The best views are in the early morning hours. Earth's closest approach with Mars is only a month away. It's the closest Mars has been to us since 2003.
You can catch up on solar system missions and all of NASA's missions at:
That's all for this month. I'm Jane Houston Jones.