June has some special sky events to add to your skyscraper summer bucket list, including a quintet of planets you can enjoy.
Throughout most of June, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will stretch across the sky like a string of pearls appearing in the morning twig hours before sunrise.
Sky & Telescope Magazine calls it a “planet parade” because the planets will also be in the correct order from the sun.
Mercury will be the most difficult to spot as the last to appear in the series just before it is swallowed by sunlight. However, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn should be easy to see throughout the month.
As a quartet, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn have appeared together in recent months, but June is the last chance to see the group together before they begin to spread further into the night sky.
Look for the planets in the sky before sunrise by 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. A pair of binoculars can also help improve your experience.
If you want to know which planet is which, know that they are arranged in their natural order from the sun: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. An app for the sky like Stellarium can also help you identify all the planets.
In early June, Mercury and Saturn will be the smallest in the sky. As the month progresses, the planets will begin to appear further apart in the sky.
Mercury will be brighter and higher on the horizon in mid-June, making it easier to detect.
Towards the end of the month, the five-planet alignment will add a sixth gem to the show. On June 24, Mercury will float 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 bend as morning objects for most observers by September.
Bonus: Old star cluster on display
Another treat for summer cloud gaking is also happening this month. NASA astronomers say that June is also an excellent month to see the spherical star cluster known as the Hercules Cluster M13. This globular cluster is believed to be almost 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 public observational events near NASA’s Night Sky Network.
The full moon in June is known as the strawberry moon.
The entire moon view falls on June 14 if you want to enjoy some outdoor time or maybe camp by the moonlight. A new moon on June 28 will be the best time to go to a dark sky away from the city lights to look for your favorite constellations.