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Hal Kibbey

Last modified: Thursday, May 30, 2013

Star Trak: June 2013

May 30, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Mercury will have a fine evening appearance during June. It will be visible near much-brighter Venus for most of the month, making it easy to spot above the west-northwestern horizon. Nearby above the two planets will be the bright stars Castor and Pollux in the constellation Gemini the Twins.


Photo courtesy of NASA


Print-Quality Photo

A half hour after sunset on June 1, Mercury, Venus and Jupiter will form a straight line low in the west-northwest with Mercury at the upper end, Jupiter at the lower and Venus about halfway between them. The line will be longer each evening as Mercury appears a little higher and Jupiter much lower. On the evening of June 18, Mercury will be almost due left (south) of Venus and the two planets will be closest, while Jupiter will be out of sight behind the sun.

An animation of the three planets changing positions can be seen at the Sky & Telescope website.

Venus will slowly get higher throughout June, forming a straight line with Castor and Pollux on June 25.

Jupiter passed just 1 degree from Venus on May 28, but it will drop closer to the western horizon each evening after that, disappearing into the solar glare by the second week of June. On June 19 it will be on the opposite side of the sun from Earth.

Saturn will be near its highest in the south as night falls during June, a fine object for viewing with a telescope until midnight, when it will be getting closer to the western horizon. Its rings will tilt 17 degrees to our line of sight. Saturn's largest moon, Titan, will be due north of the planet on June 15 and due south on June 7 and 23.

Mars will appear dim and low in morning twilight at the end of June, just 7 degrees above the eastern horizon a half hour before sunrise.


The sun will reach the June solstice on June 21 at 1:04 a.m. EDT (5:04 Universal Time), marking the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere. For the next six months in the Northern Hemisphere, the days will be getting shorter.

The word "solstice" is derived from two Latin words that mean "the sun stands still." This is because the summer sun climbs to a higher point in the southern sky each day until the solstice. On the day of the solstice, it appears to arrive at about the same maximum height above the horizon as the day before, and each day afterward its maximum point is lower, dropping back toward its lowest point at the winter solstice. In this sense, the sun "stands still" at the peak of its journey across the summer sky before it starts downward again toward the southern horizon.

Moon phases

The moon will be new on June 8, at first quarter on June 16, full on June 23 and at third quarter on June 30.