Welcome to the Almanac Sky Watch for June 2020. This month, we say goodbye to nightime Venus; Jupiter and Saturn shine in the night sky from midnight through dawn—and the end of the month brings a Jupiter-Pluto conjunction. Here is a list of the top highlights for the June sky.
Sky Watch June 2020
by Bob Berman, as featured in The 2020 Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Venus is no longer visible in the evening sky, lost in the Sun’s glare. Venus and the Sun reach conjunction on June 3, after which Venus will return to being a “morning star.”
As we begin the month, look for very bright Jupiter, King of Planets, and also the yellow glow of ringed Saturn, rising around midnight and shining until dawn.
Full Moon for June
In June, 2020, the Full Strawberry Moon falls on the 5th. Since the full Moon crests during the daylight hours this year (3:12 p.m. EDT), it should appear full on both June 4 and June 5, shining from dusk until dawn. On the 5th, folks who live in the Eastern Hemisphere will witness a penumbral eclipse of the Moon (a slight, subtlely shaded eclipse) but it won’t be visible for North America.
June Bright Planets
- Change prevails, as Venus crosses over to be a morning star in Taurus. We should be able to get a good view of Venus in the morning sky starting in mid-June.
- There will be a very low but spectacularly close Moon–Venus conjunction in bright twilight on June 19. Without binoculars, however, this pairing will be difficult to observe in the setting Sun’s glow.
- In the first half of June, Mercury is the evening star in Gemini; now in the dimmer half of its orbit, it was easier to see last month.
Jupiter (magnitude – 2.5) shines brightly in the southeast to south from midnight until dawn. The Moon passes near Jupiter on the morning of June 8.
If you have even a small telescope, you should be able to spot the two dark bands, the famous Great Red Spot, and Jupiter’s four largest moons.
About 4° to Jupiter’s left is Saturn (+0.4), also rising around midnight and one-third of the way up the southern sky before dawn. The waning Moon can be seen near Saturn on the morning of June 9.
Mars rises by 2:00 A.M. in the south to southeast at midmonth, far to the left of Saturn in dim Aquarius. The waning Moon passes near Mars on the mornings of June 12/13.
- For those with telescopes: Jupiter and Pluto meet up on June 30, 2020 for a conjunction, which will be visible in our night sky (as opposed to being lost in the sun’s glare). Pluto requires a telescope to be seen as it’s very faint near bright Jupiter but use the Giant Planet to find the dwarf planet!
- The same calendar vagaries that gave us our extraordinarily early spring now bring an early summer, with the June solstice on the 20th at 5:44 P.M. EDT.
Image: Pluto and its largest moon Charon by New Horizons spacecraft. Credit. NASA/ JHUAPL.
- June is a great time to stargaze. Easily found is the Big Dipper, high in the north at nightfall in June. Learn more about how to spot the Big Dipper and Little Dipper!
- It’s also fun to spot the Summer Triangle! See how to spot the Summer triangle and other constellations and star groupings!