June’s evening sky offers a bright outline of the path that the Sun will follow in a few months. The stars Regulus and Spica lie quite close to that path, known as the ecliptic. And three bright planets also line up along the ecliptic. From west to east, they are brilliant Jupiter (between Regulus and Spica), orange Mars (in the south), and golden Saturn (to the left of Mars). The Sun will pass close to Regulus in August, Spica in October, and the current positions of Mars and Saturn in December.
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In the Sky This Month
June 27: Sagittarius
Sagittarius, the constellation that marks the center of the Milky Way galaxy, scoots low across the south on summer nights. Its brightest stars form the outline of a teapot, with the glowing band of the Milky Way rising from the spout like steam.
June 28: Ara
Below the curved tail of Scorpius, deep in southern skies, Ara, the altar, sends its tendrils of smoke billowing into the Milky Way. Although faint, Ara has a long history. It probably originated in Sumeria about 5,500 years ago.
June 29: Evening Zodiac
Half of the constellations of the zodiac line up across the south as night falls this evening. They stretch from Cancer, which is quite low in the west, to Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpius, and finally Sagittarius low in the southeast.
June 30: Eagle Nebula
One of the most beautiful and inspiring regions in the galaxy, the Eagle Nebula, climbs across the south on summer nights. Binoculars reveal some of its stars, and a telescope shows its hazy outline.