Our sky map for June 2016 is a free and printable star chart to see stars and constellations in the night sky, from The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Sky Map for June 2016
This star chart was created by Jeff DeTray. Each month, we highlight bright stars in the sky, constellations, planets, the Moon, and dark sky events. Follow more of Jeff’s sky adventures at AstronomyBoy.com.
Watch the night sky from your backyard or plan a drive in the countryside away from bright light. Pack some snacks, chairs, and binoculars if you have them!
Click-and-Print Sky Map
Just click here or on the image below to open the printable map—then bring outside!
Sky Map Highlights: June 2016
A Magnificent Celestial Lineup
If you stay up late during the month of June, the night sky offers a gorgeous lineup of stars and planets, plus the Moon. The display is at its best in the first 3 weeks of the month.
We’ll be looking at a series of bright objects stretching in a long line from due west through south and into the southeast. You’ll want to view it from a location where bright lighting does not interfere and where trees and buildings do not intrude on the horizon.
- Beginning in the west, the bright star Regulus and the giant planet Jupiter are paired near one another in the constellation Leo, the Lion. Regulus, whose Arabic name means “the heart of the lion,” is the 21st brightest star. Jupiter is markedly brighter than Regulus and shines with a steady light, whereas Regulus appears to twinkle. That’s one way to distinguish a star from a planet. Stars typically twinkle, but planets do not. Earth and Jupiter are currently moving away from one another, so Jupiter will become slightly dimmer as the month wears on.
- Next in line as we gaze leftward is the star Spica in Virgo, the Virgin. Shining brighter than Regulus, Spica ranks 16th among the brightest stars.
- Brighter still and located high above Spica is Arcturus in the constellation Boötes, the Herdsman. Arcturus is the 4th brightest star, and some keen-eyed observers note that it has a very pale orangish color. Compared to Spica, which is most definitely a blazing white, Arcturus should appear at least off-white, if not with a hint of orange. The comparison will be easiest in the first week of June, when the Moon is not in the vicinity to wash out the view.
- Ah, the Moon! It appears on the map at its location on the night of June 15, when it will be in its gibbous phase, about halfway between first quarter and full. The gibbous Moon shape is that of a lopsided oval. Just 5 days earlier, on June 10, the Moon will be far to the right, between Regulus and Jupiter, and will appear less than half-illuminated. On each succeeding night, the Moon grows “fatter” (more of it becomes sunlit from our perspective) and moves left.
- Farther left on the map is the trio of Mars, Saturn, and Antares—three objects that will remain in close proximity for the next few months. The planet Mars is the brightest of the three, with the planet Saturn next, followed by the star Antares. Note how Antares twinkles but Mars and Saturn do not. Antares is the 15th brightest star, just a fraction brighter than Spica. There is a nice color contrast between the two, with Antares slightly orangey-white compared to Spica’s bright white.
June 2016 Sky Map
Click here or on image below to enlarge (PDF)
Sky map produced using Chris Marriott’s Skymap Pro
The word “planet” derives from a Greek word meaning “wanderer.” Planets do indeed wander compared to the barely moving stars.
A simple but rewarding sky-gazing project for the summer is to note the changing positions of planets Mars and Saturn with respect to the star Antares. It can be fun to make a simple sketch of the area once every week or two. You will notice that Antares stays in precisely the same location at all times. Like nearly all stars, Antares’s movement is imperceptible during a person’s lifetime.
Not so, the planets; they are always on the move! Relative to Antares, Saturn will spend the summer meandering very slowly to the left and then reverse course and move slowly right. Mars will zip along much faster, passing close to Antares in late August before speeding on to the “Teapot” of Sagittarius by October.
See our Sky Watch page for more highlights of the monthly sky, courtesy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac.