June has a few special celestial events to add to your summer to-do list, including a quintet of planets to enjoy.
For most of June, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will stretch across the sky like a string of pearls appearing at dawn just hours before sunrise.
Sky & Telescope magazine calls it a “parade of planets” because the planets will also be in the correct order from the sun.
Mercury will be the hardest to spot as the last to appear in range just before being swallowed up by sunlight. However, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn should be easy to see all month.
As a quartet, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn have appeared together for the past few months, but June is the last chance to see the group together before they begin to spread further across the night sky.
Look for planets in the sky before sunrise looking southeast.
This celestial event does not require any special equipment, but the view will be even better if you have access to a telescope or a local observatory. Binoculars could also help improve your experience.
If you want to know which planet it is, know that they are arranged in their natural order from the sun: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. A sky-watching app like Stellarium can also help you identify all the planets.
At the beginning of June, Mercury and Saturn will be the smallest in the sky. As the month progresses, planets will begin to appear farther apart in the sky.
Mercury will be brighter and higher on the horizon in 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, the crescent moon will appear between Venus and Mars.
According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Venus and Saturn will retreat as morning objects for most observers by September.
Bonus: Ancient Star Cluster Exposed
Another summertime skywatching treat also occurs this month. NASA astronomers say June is also a great month to see the globular star cluster known as Hercules Cluster M13. This globular star cluster is believed to be nearly 12 billion years old.
This collection of stars is best seen with a telescope and will appear high in the eastern sky during the first hours of darkness throughout the month.
No telescope? No problem, find nearby public viewing events through NASA’s Night Sky Network.
The June Full Moon is known as the Strawberry Moon.
The full lunar view falls on June 14 if you want to enjoy some outdoor weather or perhaps moonlight camping. A new moon on June 28 will be the best time to head to dark skies away from city lights to search for your favorite constellations.