What's Up in The Sky Now

Monthly Stargazing Targets  Getting Started in Astronomy

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 June 2020 (Notes by DMAS member Dave Lynch) 


The Planets 

Even though all of us have been stuck indoors for some time now there still are some very good planets to observe even from your back yard. The two great planets of Jupiter and Saturn are finally back in the night sky and even elusive Mercury puts in a brief appearance this month.

MERCURY is visible even before the sun completely sets. It reaches twenty-four degrees high and doesn't set for at least an hour after sunset. Catch it in the first couple of weeks before it starts dropping low in the west.

VENUS has slipped into the early morning sky this month and you won't have any trouble spotting it. This bright planet is chasing the Pleiades and its disk is over 50% lit. Early in the month it rises almost a hour before the sun and by month end it appears more than two hours ahead of sunrise.

EARTH is past its rainy season and hopefully will settle down and deliver a nice comfortable summer. Unfortunately, for back yard observers, this means lot of leaves on tall trees to contend with.

MARS clears the horizon about 2:00 am at the start of the month but slows down a little and rises close to midnight due in part to Daylight Savings Time. It should be fairly high enough in the sky to spot before sunrise.

JUPITER takes advantage of Daylight Savings Time and clears the horizon about 9:30 pm this month. Look for Jupiter cruising through Sagittarius. Look again and notice Saturn less than 5 degrees left of Jupiter and catching up. 

SATURN rises about fifteen minutes after Jupiter and starts chasing it. The rings, always the best sight on Saturn, are tilted down about twenty degrees with Saturn less than two magnitudes dimmer than Jupiter. A good wide angle eyepiece can capture both planets in a single viewing.

URANUS is trailing Neptune, and both are chasing Mars in the early morning sky. Uranus will be very difficult to see as it shines at around 9th magnitude as it begins to make its long trip back into the night sky.

NEPTUNE rises before Uranus by a couple of hours and is much closer to Mars in the early morning sky. Unless you have an open view of the eastern horizon, I would wait a month until Neptune puts in an earlier appearance.

PLUTO is still up there, leading the way for Jupiter and Saturn.


  • Full Moon -> June 05

  • Last Quarter -> June 13

  • New Moon -> June 21

  • First Quarter -> June 28

Other topics this month: 

Daves interesting facts for the stay-at-home:

Mars, which many "experts" have called a dead planet, has Mars Quakes. Well over 100 shakers have been detected with some reaching as high as Mag. 4. A magnitude 4 here on Earth is a nasty earthquake. Most of those detected came from very close to the surface but some have been detected coming from very deep. A thing to keep in mind if and when we ever place a manned mission on this planet.

Pluto has weather. Satellite images have shown that due to the tilt of Pluto, one face of this distant planet receives sunshine and the result is some melting of the surface than flows across the surface and freezes when it hits the shady side.

Jupiter has lost its title as the planet with the most satelites. The official count is in, and mighty Jupiter finished with just 79 moons. Newly discovered orbiting Saturn astronomers have discovered an additional 20 moons bringing the total to the ringed planet to 82 moons. 3 more than Jupiter. Of course most of these newly discovered moons are rather small but a moon's a moon.



Meteor Showers

web fireball 9x12Meteor showers come each year at the same time. Click here to see a list and descriptions.






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