The planets seem especially busy this month, entering and exiting the dawn and dusk skies. Venus ends its reign as the Morning Star, dropping too low into the dawn twilight to see. Mars nears the end of its long and brilliant run over the last year as it drops lower in the sky each evening. It has a brief encounter with Mercury, which loops into view in the western sky for a good part of the month. Mighty Jupiter, on the other hand, lords over the sky all night.
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In the Sky This Month
June 17: Cygnus
Cygnus, the swan, is beginning its climb to prominence in the summer sky. It is low in the east and northeast a couple of hours after sunset. Its long, graceful body runs parallel to the horizon, with its wings stretched to either side.
June 18: Moon and Saturn
The planet Saturn appears just a whisker above the Moon as they climb into view in late evening. The giant planet looks like a bright star. It will be a little farther to the right of the Moon at first light tomorrow.
June 19: Messier 10
The star cluster Messier 10, in Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer, is in the southeast as night falls, well to the upper left of the brilliant planet Jupiter. Through binoculars, it looks like a hazy smudge of light.
June 20: Summer Solstice
Summer arrives in the northern hemisphere tomorrow morning. At that moment, known as the summer solstice, the Sun will stand farthest north for the entire year. It marks the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere.
June 21: More Solstice
While the northern hemisphere enjoys the beginning of summer today, the southern hemisphere is heading into winter. The June solstice is the longest day of the year north of the equator, but the shortest day south of it.
June 22: The Coathanger
The Coathanger, a pattern of 10 stars that looks like a coat hanger, is in the faint constellation Vulpecula, the fox. It lines up between the the bright star Altair, which is low in the east at nightfall, and brighter Vega, far to its upper left.
June 23: Massive Milky Way
The Milky Way is beginning its journey into summer’s evening skies. It arcs low across the east not long after nightfall. It’s anchored by teapot-shaped Sagittarius in the south, the graceful swan in the east, and W-shaped Cassiopeia in the north.