Skywatching Tips

What's Up for June? A half-full Moon, the scorpion's sting, and the summer solstice is coming!

Skywatching Highlights

  • June 17: The Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its first quarter at 11:54 p.m. EDT.
  • June 20: Summer solstice is at 11:32 p.m. EDT.
  • June 24: The next full Moon is June 24 and it's sometimes called the Strawberry Moon.
Partial solar eclipse over US Capitol
A partial solar eclipse is visible as the Sun rises to the left of the U.S. Capitol on June 10, 2021. This view is from Arlington, Virginia. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Following May's total lunar eclipse, June brought us a solar eclipse. On June 10th, the Moon briefly slipped between Earth and the Sun, partially obscuring our local star from view. We're including a few images in case you missed it.

Partial Solar Eclipse Delaware
A partial solar eclipse is seen as the Sun rises behind the Delaware Breakwater Lighthouse, June 10, 2021, at Lewes Beach in Delaware. Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

This month's solar eclipse was visible for those in the northeastern U.S., eastern Canada, and northern Europe.

A reminder – never look at the Sun without proper protection for your eyes. Here are NASA's eclipse eye safety tips.

Skychart Scorpius
The constellation Scorpius, with brilliant Antares at its heart, is a highlight of summer skies beginning in June. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

On summer evenings, you may notice a curved grouping of stars crawling across the southern sky, among them a brilliant red beacon. This is the constellation Scorpius, the scorpion, and beginning in June, it's the prime time to look for it.

This grouping of stars has been thought of as having the shape of a scorpion going back to ancient times in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. In the Greek myth, the scorpion's deadly sting brought down the great hunter Orion, and that's why – the story goes – we find them on opposite sides of the sky today.

This pattern of stars also been seen as part of a great dragon, in China, and the fish hook of the demigod Maui in Hawaii. That fish-hook shape also forms the tail of the scorpion.

At the beginning of June, if you're in the northern hemisphere, the scorpion's tail might still be below the horizon for you, early in the evening. It rises over the first few hours after dark. But by the end of the month, the scorpion's tail will be above the horizon after sunset for most stargazers.

That bright, beacon-like star in Scorpius is Antares, which is a huge red giant star, and one of the brightest in the sky. It forms the blazing heart of the scorpion. So look toward the south and use Antares as your guide to finding the constellation Scorpius.

Sky Chart Mid June
Having swapped places in December 2020, Saturn now leads Jupiter across the sky, rising an hour before the other giant planet in June. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

You may remember back in December when Jupiter and Saturn had their incredibly close meetup in the sky. In the runup to that "Great Conjunction," Jupiter led Saturn across the sky all through 2020. Well, 6 months later, the pair continue to move farther apart, and now Saturn has the lead position as the two planets rise and set. Look for them in the east after midnight, or toward the south at dawn.

Ganymede from Juno
This image of Jupiter's moon Ganymede was obtained by the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft during its June 7, 2021, flyby of the icy moon. Juno came within 645 miles (1,038 kilometers) of its surface – closer to Ganymede than any spacecraft has come in more than two decades. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

Earlier this month, NASA's Juno spacecraft made a close flyby of Jupiter's icy moon Ganymede on June 7. Photos from the flyby show the surface in remarkable detail, including craters, clearly distinct dark and bright terrain, and long structural features possibly linked to tectonic faults. This is the first of several planned flybys over the next couple of years that will include encounters with icy Europa and volcanic Io.

Phases of the Moon

Current Moon Phase
Use this tool to see the current Moon phase and to plan ahead for other Moon views. Credit: NASA
Daily Guide

Daily Guide

June 17

Thursday night the Moon will appear half-full as it reaches its first quarter at 11:54 p.m. EDT.

June 19

Saturday evening, June 19, 2021, the bright star Spica will appear about 5 degrees below the waxing gibbous Moon.

June 20: Summer Solstice

Beginning the morning of Sunday, June 20, 2021, the planet Mercury will begin appearing above the horizon about 30 minutes before sunrise (approximately when it may start being visible in the glow of dawn). Mercury will not start appearing above the horizon at the time morning twilight begins until July 1.

Sunday night, at 11:32 p.m. EDT, will be the summer solstice, the astronomical end of spring, and the beginning of summer. This will be the day with the longest period of daylight.

June 21

On Monday evening, June 21, 2021, the bright planet Venus (as the Evening Star) and the bright star Pollux will appear at their closest to each other, a little over 5 degrees apart. The pair will appear near each other during the latter part of June.

June 22

Tuesday evening, June 22, 2021, the bright star Antares will appear about 5 degrees below the waxing gibbous Moon.

June 23

Wednesday morning, June 23, 2021, at 5:56 a.m. EDT, the Moon will be at perigee, its closest to the Earth for this orbit.

June 24

The next full Moon will be Thursday afternoon, June 24, 2021, at 2:40 p.m. EDT. The Moon will appear full for about 3 days centered on this time, from early Wednesday morning through early Saturday morning.

Additional Resources

Additional Resources

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