Weekly Stargazing Tips

Provided by StarDate.org. Unless otherwise specified, viewing times are local time regardless of time zone, and are good for the entire Lower 48 states (and, generally, for Alaska and Hawaii).

June 5: Earliest Sunrise

The year’s earliest sunrises in the northern hemisphere occur over the next few days. The date varies by latitude, with southern locations getting that extra sunlight first. The longest day of the year is the summer solstice, June 21.

June 6: Vega

One of the most brilliant stars is a dominant presence from late spring through autumn. Vega is the fifth-brightest star in the night sky. It is about a third of the way up in the east-northeast at nightfall now, and climbs high overhead later on.

June 7: Menkent

Centaurus wheels low across the south on June nights. Much of the constellation stays below the horizon. The brightest star in Centaurus that’s visible from most of the United States is Menkent, a name that means “shoulder of the centaur.”

June 8: Moon and Saturn

The planet Saturn appears near the Moon in the wee hours of tomorrow morning. It stands to the upper left of the Moon at first light, and looks like a bright golden star.

June 9: More Moon and Saturn

Saturn, the second-largest planet in the solar system, will stand close to the upper right of the Moon at dawn tomorrow. The planet looks like a bright star. Its brightness is enhanced by its icy rings, which reflect most of the sunlight that strikes them.

June 10: Dubhe

The Big Dipper is in the northwest at nightfall. The star at the bottom of the dipper is Dubhe, which marks the lip of the bowl. Dubhe actually consists of two pairs of stars. The members of one pair are both much bigger, brighter, and more massive than the Sun.

June 11: Venus and the Beehive

Venus is moving past a “beehive” of stars over the next few nights. The Evening Star will pass close to the outskirts of the hive, which is the star cluster Messier 44, in Cancer, the crab. When viewed through a telescope, M44 looks like a swarm of angry bees.