June offers warm nights for watching the sky but a limited amount of time to enjoy the view, with the longest days and shortest nights of the year. Even so, there is plenty to look at, with Leo diving toward the western horizon in early evening and the Summer Triangle climbing into view in the east. The triangle’s leading light, Vega, is the second-brightest star visible from most of the United States on summer evenings, only a fraction fainter than Arcturus, which is high in the south at nightfall.
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In the Sky This Month
June 22: Eltanin
Eltanin, an Arabic name that means “the serpent,” is the brightest star of Draco, the dragon, which is high in the north on summer evenings. Eltanin is as bright as the nearby North Star, Polaris.
June 23: New Moon
The Moon is “new” today, as it crosses the imaginary line between Earth and Sun. It will return to view as a thin crescent on Sunday evening, quite low in the west shortly after sunset.
June 24: Orange Triplets
A system of three orange stars is in the south-southwest at nightfall, not far to the lower right of the bright planet Saturn. 36 Ophiuchi looks like a single, faint point of light. It consists of three stars that are smaller and cooler than the Sun.
June 25: Summer Triangle
The Summer Triangle is in good view at nightfall. Its brightest point is Vega, in Lyra, the harp, which is high in the east-northeast. The faintest point, Deneb, is well to the lower left of Vega, with Altair farther to the lower right of Vega.
June 26: June Milky Way
About an hour after nightfall, the Milky Way curves from the northeast to the south-southeast. In the northeast, look for cross-shaped Cygnus immersed in the Milky Way’s glow. And in the south, look for the scorpion and Sagittarius, the archer.
June 27: Moon and Regulus
The star Regulus perches just a whisker away from the crescent Moon this evening. It’s the leading light of Leo, the lion. The name Regulus means “the little king.” The star is also known as Alpha Leonis, 32 Leo, and more than a dozen other names.
June 28: Sagittarius Rising
Sagittarius climbs low across the southern sky on summer nights. Its brightest stars form the shape of a teapot, which clears the southeastern horizon a couple of hours after sunset. The center of the Milky Way galaxy is above the teapot’s spout.