The sky this week from June 3 to 10
Sunday June 5
Saturn stands still against a backdrop of Capricorn stars at 10:00 a.m. EDT. The ringed planet is currently prominent in the pre-dawn sky, shining at magnitude 0.6 in the upper left (northeast) corner of Deneb Algedi.
But this morning, you’ll want to focus on the other giant planet in the solar system: Jupiter, which is a bright beacon of magnitude -2.3 in southwest Pisces. The planet is still near Mars, which is less than 5° from Cetus, after the pair’s close conjunction last week.
Jupiter’s four Galilean moons regularly pass through the disc – or rather, three of those moons do. In recent years, the tilt of Callisto’s orbit relative to Jupiter and Earth has meant that the moon does not not transit, but rather seems to pass above or below the planet. But this month, the conditions are right to see the moon disappear behind or pass in front of Jupiter. This morning, between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. EDT, you can watch Callisto just glide behind the gas giant disk to the north, appearing partially obscured as it passes behind the planet.
Sunset: 8:25 p.m.
Moonrise: 10:44 am
Moon setting: 00:44
Moon phase: Wax Crescent (32%)
Monday, June 6
Venus dominates the morning sky in June, shining first in Aries, where you’ll find it this morning, then in Taurus later in the month. At magnitude -3.9, you can’t miss the planet in the pre-dawn sky, sitting below (southeast of) Hamal and Sheratan, the two brightest stars in Aries.
Thanks to a telescope, the 13″ wide disc of Venus is almost 80% illuminated. Its crescent will gain another 6% by the end of the month, although the entire disc itself will shrink to 12″ wide. wide. While you certainly don’t need binoculars to see Venus, if you have a pair handy, gaze 6.5° east to land on distant Uranus. Shining at a mild magnitude of 5.9, Uranus appears just 3 inches across.
Finally, follow the line from Venus to Uranus another 14° in the same direction, and you will find yourself directly in the Pleiades, a sparkling open cluster in northwest Taurus.
Sunset: 8:26 p.m.
Moon setting: 01:14
Moon phase: Wax Crescent (41%)
Tuesday, June 7
Today is one of the first days you might spot Mercury as it moves away from the Sun. The smallest planet in the solar system rises in the east this morning shortly before 5 a.m. It’s currently a faint magnitude of 1.5, so it may behoove you to get out binoculars or a telescope to help you spot it. To find Mercury, look about 15.3° east of Venus, which should still stand out easily even in the increasing twilight.
Be very careful to stop hunting your target several minutes before sunrise at your location, which may differ slightly from the time listed below. Never use binoculars or a telescope when the Sun is near or above the horizon, because chances are you could accidentally catch our star in your lenses and cause irreparable and serious damage to your eyes. .
Don’t worry if you’re having trouble finding it – Mercury’s appearance will improve throughout the month as it brightens and rises slightly earlier, so be patient.
The first quarter moon occurs later this morning at 10:48 a.m. EDT.
Sunset: 8:27 p.m.
Moonrise: 12:51 p.m.
Moon setting: 01:39
Moon phase: Waxing Gibber (51%)