A clear night sky offers an ever-changing display of fascinating objects to see — stars, constellations, and bright planets, often the moon, and sometimes special events like meteor showers. Observing the night sky can be done with no special equipment, although a sky map can be very useful. Binoculars or one of the best telescopes will enhance some experiences and bring some otherwise invisible objects into view. You can also use stargazing apps and software to make your observing easier, and use our Satellite Tracker page powered by N2YO.com (opens in new tab) to find out when to see the International Space Station and other satellites. Below, find out what’s up in the night sky tonight (Planets Visible Now, Moon Phases, Observing Highlights This Month) plus other resources (Skywatching Terms, Night Sky Observing Tips and Further Reading).
Monthly skywatching information is provided to Space.com by Chris Vaughan of Starry Night Education, the leader in space science curriculum solutions. Follow Starry Night on Twitter @StarryNightEdu (opens in new tab) and Chris at @Astrogeoguy (opens in new tab).
Editor’s note: If you have an amazing skywatching photo you’d like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Night Sky Guides:
Calendar of observing highlights
Wednesday, June 1 – Crescent Moon near Ceres (after sunset)
When the pretty, young crescent moon appears low in the western sky after sunset on Wednesday, June 1, it will be positioned a thumb’s width to the right (or 1.6 degrees to the celestial northwest) of the medium-bright star Mebsuta in Gemini. The dwarf planet (formerly asteroid) designated (1) Ceres will be located a similar distance to the moon’s lower right. All three objects will share the view in binoculars (green circle), but clearly seeing Ceres’ magnitude 8.9 speck will require a backyard telescope. In the period surrounding 6:30 p.m. EDT or 22:30 GMT, the moon will occult Ceres in daylight for observers in northern Polynesia, Hawaii, the continental USA, most of Mexico, the southern edge of Canada, the Caribbean, and the northeastern edge of South America.
Thursday, June 2 – Mars Outruns Jupiter (pre-dawn)
Several days after their very close conjunction, Mars and Jupiter will continue to shine together in the east-southeastern sky on the mornings surrounding Thursday, June 2. They’ll be flanked by extremely bright, white Venus to their lower left (or celestial northeast) and the fainter, yellowish dot of Saturn well off to their right (celestial southwest). The faster motion of reddish Mars will increase its separation east of 17 times brighter Jupiter each morning – but they’ll share the field of view in binoculars (green circle) until June 8. After the two planets clear the treetops after about 3 a.m. in your local time zone, they’ll remain visible until almost sunrise.
Friday, June 3 – Crescent Moon Passes the Beehive (evening)
On Friday night, June 3, the easterly orbital motion of the waxing crescent moon will carry it past the huge open star cluster in Cancer known as the Beehive, Praesepe, and Messier 44 in the western sky. After dusk in the Eastern Time zone, the moon will be shining a slim palm’s width to the right (or 5 degrees to the celestial northwest) of the cluster. More westerly observers will see the moon somewhat closer to the Beehive after dusk. The moon and the cluster will be close enough to share the field of binoculars (green circle), but you’ll see more of the “bees” if you hide the moon just outside of their field of view.
Sunday, June 5 – Saturn Stands Still (midnight to dawn)
On Sunday, June 5, the eastward prograde motion of the ringed planet Saturn through the background stars of eastern Capricornus will slow to a stop. After Sunday it will commence a westward retrograde loop that will last until late October (red path with dates:hour). On early June mornings the yellowish dot of Saturn will be visible with unaided eyes in the lower part of the southeastern sky from the time it clears the horizon around 1 a.m. local time until the dawn twilight hides it. Retrograde loops occur when Earth, on a faster orbit closer to the sun, passes more distant planets “on the inside track”, making them appear to move backwards across the stars.
Monday, June 6 – Lunar X and V in Daytime (peaks at 21:30 GMT)
Several times a year, for a few hours just before first quarter, small features on the moon called the Lunar X and the Lunar V become visible in strong binoculars and backyard telescopes. The bright X-shaped pattern appears when the rims of the craters Purbach, la Caille, and Blanchinus are illuminated from a particular angle of sunlight. Look for it along the terminator, about one third of the way from the southern pole of the Moon, at lunar coordinates 2° East, 24° South. The Lunar V will form along the northern span of the terminator near the crater Ukert. The features will begin to develop around 5 p.m. EDT (2 p.m. PDT and 21:00 GMT) on Monday, June 6, while the moon is shining in a daylight sky in the Americas. They will peak in intensity about 90 minutes later and then disappear by about 8 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. PDT and 00:00 GMT). Viewing the moon through polarized glasses in daytime will increase the image contrast. Observers in Europe and western Africa can see the features while the moon shines in a dark sky.
Tuesday, June 7 – First Quarter Moon (at 14:48 GMT)
The moon will complete the first quarter of its orbit around Earth, measuring from the previous new moon, on Tuesday, June 7 at 10:48 a.m. EDT, 7:48 a.m. PDT, or 14:48 GMT. The 90 degree angle formed by the Earth, sun, and moon at that time will cause us to see our natural satellite half-illuminated – on its eastern side. At first quarter, the moon always rises around mid-day and sets around midnight, allowing it to be seen in the afternoon daytime sky, too. The evenings surrounding the first quarter phase are the best ones for viewing the lunar terrain when it is dramatically lit by low-angled sunlight.
Friday, June 10 – Morning Planet Bonanza Begins (before sunrise)
On Friday morning, June 10, the speedy planet Mercury will climb far enough west of the sun for it to become visible just above the east-northeastern horizon from mid-northern latitudes. Its arrival will allow the five bright planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn to be seen with unaided eyes, arranged in the order of their distance from the sun, until almost sunrise. The 90 degree long string of planets will remain visible for the rest of June. Owners of binoculars and telescopes can seek out the faint dot of blue-green Uranus near extremely bright Venus, and tiny, blue Neptune lurking between Jupiter and Saturn. Fine photo opportunities arrive when the waning moon passes the planets from June 18 to 27.
Saturday, June 11 – Venus Overtakes Uranus (before sunrise)
On Saturday morning, June 11, the faster motion of the extremely bright planet Venus will carry it past distant Uranus in the eastern pre-dawn sky. The two planets will be close enough to share the view in the eyepiece of a backyard telescope (inset), but bright, white Venus will outshine blue-green Uranus by a factor of 8000 times, making the fainter planet difficult to see against the glare. On Saturday, Venus will be positioned a thumb’s width below (or 1.7 degrees to the celestial south of) Uranus. They’ll be nearly as close on the following day, with Venus shifting left (east) by one degree. Observers at southerly latitudes, where the planets will appear higher in a darker sky, will get the best view of the conjunction.
Sunday, June 12 – Bright Moon Occults Dschubba (10:18 pm EDT)
On Sunday evening, June 12, observers in the northeastern USA and eastern Canada can see the nearly full moon occult the bright double star Dschubba or Delta Scorpii in binoculars and backyard telescopes (the view shown here). Exact timings will vary by location, so use Starry Night or another astronomy app to determine the precise times where you are. In New York City, the leading, dark edge of the moon will cover the two stars at 10:19 p.m. EDT. They will emerge from behind the moon’s opposite, bright limb at 11:07 p.m. EDT. Try to start watching a few minutes ahead of each time noted.
Tuesday, June 14 – Full Strawberry Supermoon (at 11:52 GMT)
The moon will officially reach its full phase at 7:52 a.m. EDT (or 4:52 a.m. PDT and 11:52 GMT) on Tuesday, June 14. When the moon rises at sunset many hours later in the Americas, it will already be waning – showing a thin, dark strip along its eastern (upper) limb. The June full moon, colloquially known as the Strawberry Moon, Mead Moon, Rose Moon, or Hot Moon, always shines in or near the stars of Sagittarius, the Archer. The indigenous Ojibwe people of the Great Lakes region call this moon Ode’miin Giizis, the Strawberry Moon. For the Cree Nation it’s Opiniyawiwipisim, the Egg Laying Moon (referring to the activities of wild water-fowl). The Mohawks call it Ohiarí:Ha, the Fruits are Small Moon. The Cherokee call it Tihaluhiyi, the “the Green Corn Moon”, when crops are growing. The moon only appears full when it is opposite the sun in the sky, so full moons always rise in the east as the sun is setting, and set in the west at sunrise. Since sunlight is hitting the moon face-on at that time, no shadows are cast. All of the variations in brightness you see arise from differences in the reflectivity, or albedo, of the lunar surface rocks. The June moon will be full only half a day before lunar perigee, producing higher tides worldwide and the first of two consecutive supermoons for 2022. Supermoons shine about 16% brighter and appear 6% larger than an average full moon.
Thursday, June 16 – Mercury at Greatest Western Elongation (pre-dawn)
On Thursday, June 16, Mercury will swing to a maximum angle of 23° west of the sun, and reach peak visibility for its current morning apparition. Between about 4:30 and 5 a.m. in your local time zone, look for the magnitude 0.45 planet shining very low in the east-northeastern sky. It will be positioned a fist diameter to the lower left of much brighter Venus. In a telescope (inset) Mercury will exhibit a 36%-illuminated, waxing crescent phase. Mercury’s position well below (south of) a shallowly-dipping morning ecliptic (green line) will make this a poor apparition for mid-Northern latitude observers, but a fine showing for those located near the Equator, and farther south. Don’t worry if skies are cloudy on Thursday. Mercury will be nearly as far from the sun on the surrounding mornings
Saturday, June 18 – Gibbous Moon Joins Saturn (midnight to dawn)
The moon will begin its monthly trip past the morning planets on Saturday morning, June 18. When the waning gibbous moon clears the treetops in the southeast by about 1 a.m. local time, it will be shining a generous palm’s width to the lower right of the yellowish dot of Saturn, almost close enough for them to share the view in binoculars. During the wee hours of the morning, more bright planets will rise off to their left (celestial east). The moon and Saturn will have moved into the southern sky by the time the morning twilight hides the ringed planet.
Sunday, June 19 – Moon Passes Asteroid Vesta (midnight to dawn)
After 24 hours of easterly travel, on Sunday morning, June 19, the waning moon will pass within a thumb’s width below (or 1.5 degrees south of) the main belt asteroid designated (4) Vesta. That’s close enough for the moon and magnitude 6.75 Vesta to share the view in a widefield telescope eyepiece (green circle). When they first clear the treetops in the east-southeastern sky, Vesta will be positioned to the moon’s upper left. The diurnal rotation of the sky will lift Vesta above the moon by 4 a.m. Observers in most of Antarctica, the tip of South America, and the Falkland Islands can see the moon occult Vesta around 08:00 GMT.
Monday, June 20 – Third Quarter Moon (at 11:11 pm EDT)
The moon will officially reach its third quarter phase at 11:11 p.m. EDT or 8:11 p.m. PDT on Monday, June 20, which translates to 03:11 GMT on Tuesday, June 21. At third (or last) quarter the moon is half-illuminated, on its western, sunward side. It will rise at around 1:30 a.m. local time, and then remain visible until it sets in the western daytime sky in early afternoon. Third quarter moons are positioned ahead of the Earth in our trip around the Sun. About 3½ hours later, Earth will occupy that same location in space. The week of dark, moonless evening skies that follow this phase are the best ones for observing deep sky targets.
Tuesday, June 21 – June Solstice (at 9:14 GMT)
On Tuesday, June 21 at 5:14 a.m. EDT or 2:14 a.m. PDT and 09:14 GMT, the sun will reach its northernmost declination for the year, delivering the maximum daylight hours of the year for the Northern Hemisphere and the minimum daylight hours of the year for the Southern Hemisphere. The June solstice marks the beginning of the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere, and winter in the Southern Hemisphere.
Tuesday, June 21 – Waning Moon near Jupiter (all morning)
The moon’s tour of the morning planets will continue with a nice photo opportunity on Tuesday, June 21 when the waning crescent moon will shine a palm’s width to the lower right (or 5 degrees to the celestial southwest) of the bright planet Jupiter in the lower part of the east-southeastern sky. Jupiter will remain visible to the unaided eye from the time it rises after 1 a.m. local time until almost sunrise. The moon will remain visible in the morning daytime sky, allowing you to spot Jupiter in daylight through binoculars by positioning the moon towards the bottom of your field of view (inset). Once you see Jupiter, try finding its bright pinpoint without the binoculars.
Wednesday, June 22 – Crescent Moon Meets Mars (pre-dawn)
On Wednesday morning, June 22, low in the eastern sky before dawn, the moon’s pretty crescent will take up position a palm’s width to the right of Mars’ reddish dot. Bright Jupiter will shine off to their upper right (or celestial west). By the time the sky begins to brighten, the moon and Mars will be cosy enough to share the view in binoculars. Observers in the Southern Ocean region can see the moon occult Mars around 18:00 GMT.
Thursday, June 23 – Venus Passes the Pleiades (before dawn)
On the mornings surrounding Thursday, June 23, the extremely bright planet Venus will pass binoculars-close (green circle) to the pretty Pleiades star cluster in Taurus. Look for the cluster, which is also designated Messier 45, sitting a slim palm’s width to the upper left (or 5.5 degrees to the celestial north) of the planet. They will be positioned low in the east-northeastern sky. The optimum viewing time at mid-northern latitudes will be centered around 4 a.m. local time. Observers at southerly latitudes will see the meet-up higher and in a darker sky about an hour later.
Friday, June 24 – Old Moon Hops Uranus (pre-dawn)
Low in the eastern sky before dawn on Friday morning, June 24, the old crescent moon will shine a generous palm’s width to the upper left (or 6.5 degrees to the celestial southwest) of the small, magnitude 5.8 speck of Uranus. On the following morning, the moon will hop east to sit 5 degrees to Uranus’ lower left – close enough to share the view in binoculars. In the interim, observers in western and northern Australia and eastern Indonesia can see the moon occult Uranus before dawn on Saturday.
Sunday, June 26 – Crescent Moon and Venus Photo Opportunity (pre-dawn)
A gorgeous photo opportunity arrives in the hour before sunrise on Sunday, June 26 when the delicate, slim crescent of the old moon will shine just to the upper left (or 2.5 degrees to the celestial north) of the very bright planet Venus. Look for the duo shining just above the east-northeastern horizon, flanked below and above by Mercury and the Pleiades star cluster, respectively. Or, just enjoy the spectacle with your unaided eyes or in binoculars.
Monday, June 27 – Mercury and the Crescent Moon (before sunrise)
The moon’s monthly trip past the bright pre-dawn planets comes to an end on Monday, June 27 when the silver sliver of the old moon’s crescent will shine several finger widths to the upper left (or 3.5 degrees to the celestial north) of the bright dot of Mercury. Find them above the east-northeastern horizon. The duo will share the view in binoculars (green circle), but be sure to turn optics away from the eastern horizon before the sun rises. Observers viewing from the tropics and the Southern Hemisphere will see the pair shining in a darker sky.
Tuesday, June 28 – Neptune Enters Retrograde (pre-dawn)
On Tuesday, June 28, the eastward prograde motion of the distant planet Neptune through the background stars of western Pisces (red path) will slow to a stop. After today it will commence a westward retrograde loop that will last until early December. In late June, Neptune’s faint, blue disk will be observable in telescopes (green circle) in the lower part of the southeastern sky between about 2 and 4 a.m. local time. Retrograde loops occur when Earth, on a faster orbit closer to the sun, passes more distant planets “on the inside track”, making them appear to move backwards across the stars.
Wednesday, June 29 – New Moon (at 02:52 GMT)
On Wednesday, June 29 at 02:52 GMT, the moon will officially reach its new moon phase. That corresponds to 10:52 p.m. EDT or 7:52 p.m. PDT on Tuesday in the Americas. At the new phase our natural satellite will be located in Gemini, and less than 3 degrees north of the sun. While new, the moon is travelling between Earth and the sun. Since sunlight can only shine on the far side of the moon, and the moon is in the same region of the sky as the sun, it becomes completely hidden from view from anywhere on Earth for about a day. After the new moon phase, Earth’s celestial night-light will return to shine as a crescent in the western evening sky.
After June 10, planet Mercury will reach far enough west of the sun for it to become visible just above the east-northeastern horizon from mid-northern latitudes. Its arrival will allow the five bright planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn to be seen with unaided eyes, arranged in the order of their distance from the sun. They’ll be observable until almost sunrise for the rest of June. Mercury’s month-long morning apparition will be a rather poor one for observers at mid-northern latitudes, but a good one for anyone in the tropics or farther south. The planet will brighten dramatically during June, ending the month at magnitude -0.7 from an initial brightness of 2.8. Mercury will become easier to see each morning, with peak visibility occurring on June 16, when Mercury will swing to its maximum angle of 23° west of the sun. Look for the magnitude 0.45 planet shining very low in the east-northeastern sky between 4:30 and 5 a.m. in your local time zone. Much brighter Venus will approach Mercury from the upper right (or celestial west) until they reach a minimum separation of 9.6 degrees on June 20-21. After that, Mercury will outrace Venus to the sun. Viewed through a telescope during June, Mercury’s disk will appear to decrease in diameter from 10 to 6 arc-seconds, and wax in illuminated phase from 22% to 71%. On June 27 the old moon’s crescent will shine several degrees to the upper left (or 3.5 degrees to the celestial north) of Mercury.
Venus will continue to gleam brilliantly in the east-northeastern sky during June as it slides sunward through Aries and then Taurus – but it will not climb very high by dawn for mid-northern latitude observers, who will see it most easily between 4 and 5 a.m. local time. The planet will sit at the lower left (eastern) end of a lengthy string of the bright planets Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. After Mercury appears to Venus’ lower left around June 10, all five planets will be visible in order of their distance from the sun. During June, Venus will shine at magnitude -3.9. In a telescope, its apparent disk size will decrease from 13.7 to 11.9 arc-seconds and its illuminated phase will wax slightly from 78 to 86%. In a challenging observation, on June 11, Venus will pass telescope-close below (or 1.7 degrees to the celestial south of) 8000 times fainter Uranus. Venus will approach to within 10 degrees west of Mercury on June 20-21, and then their separation will increase. On June 22-23, the planet will pass binoculars-close to the lower right (or celestial south) of the Pleiades star cluster. On June 26, the pretty crescent moon will shine between Venus and the Pleiades, with Mercury rising to their lower left around 4:30 a.m. local time.
During June, the small, reddish dot of Mars will shine in the southeastern sky for several hours before sunrise. Following its telescope-close conjunction with Jupiter at the end of May, Mars will spend June widening its separation on the left side of that much brighter planet as it travels rapidly prograde eastward through Pisces – except for a shortcut through northern Cetus from June 3 to 8. Mars will brighten slightly over the month, from magnitude 0.67 to 0.46. Telescope views will show a small, 87%-illuminated ruddy disk with mere hints of the dark markings that will be showcased come December. The planet’s apparent disk size will grow from 6.4 to 7.2 arc-seconds. The waning crescent moon will hop from right to left (or west to east) of Mars on June 22-23, allowing observers in the Southern Ocean region to see the moon occult Mars around 18:00 GMT on June 22.
Bright, white Jupiter will dominate the southeastern sky in the hours before dawn during June. The magnitude -2.3 planet will begin the month shining a thumb’s width to the upper right (or 2 degrees to the celestial west) of much fainter Mars. That planet will outrun Jupiter on their eastward trek through the stars of Pisces and northern Cetus, widening their separation daily. Jupiter will shine midway along a lengthy string of bright planets arranged in their order from the sun, namely: Mercury (after June 10), Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Jupiter will be a good telescope target during June. Its four Galilean moons will dance to the east and west of its banded disk, which will grow in apparent size from 37.4 to 40.8 arc-seconds, the Great Red Spot will appear every second or third morning, and the small, round, black shadow of one of the Galilean moons will transit the planet on June 17 and 22. The waning crescent moon will shine to Jupiter’s lower right (celestial southwest) on June 21, making a nice photo opportunity.
Yellow-tinted Saturn, which has been shining in the eastern pre-dawn sky all spring, will begin to rise before midnight local time from mid-June onward. The bright planets Mercury (after June 10), Venus, Mars, and Jupiter will be strung along the ecliptic to its lower left (or celestial east). On June 5, the eastward prograde motion of the ringed planet through the background stars of eastern Capricornus will slow to a stop as it commences a westward retrograde loop that will last until late October. That event will kick off the prime observing period for the planet. Viewed in a telescope during June, Saturn’s 17.5 arc-seconds-wide globe, adorned with its 41.5 arc-seconds-wide ring system, will be surrounded by a number of its brightest moons. The angle of Saturn’s rings will diminish until March, 2025, so a greater amount of Saturn’s southern hemisphere will extend below its ring plane this year. The waning gibbous moon will pass less than 6 degrees below (or celestial south) of Saturn on June 18.
Uranus’ steady march away from the pre-dawn sun will allow the planet to become increasingly observable in the lower part of the eastern sky during June – but the magnitude 5.8 planet won’t climb high enough in a dark sky for clear telescopic views from mid-northern latitudes until beyond the end of the month. Uranus will shift slowly eastward through southern Aries all month long, forming a triangle less than 2 degrees south of the stars Rho and Pi Arietis, which bear similar magnitudes. On June 12, Uranus will be passed on the south by 10 magnitudes brighter Venus. The waning crescent moon will hop past Uranus on June 24-25, allowing observers in western and northern Australia and eastern Indonesia to see the moon occult Uranus before dawn on June 25 – the fifth of 15 consecutive monthly lunar occultations of the seventh planet.
Neptune will spend June in the southeastern sky near the western border of Pisces, flanked by the bright planets Jupiter and Saturn to its east and west, respectively. The blue, magnitude 7.8 planet will rise during the wee hours, allowing it to be observed through good binoculars and backyard telescopes in the dark sky preceding dawn. In a telescope Neptune will show a 2.3 arc-seconds wide-disk. On June 28, its eastward prograde motion through the background stars will slow to a stop in preparation for a westward retrograde loop that will last until early December.
Gibbous: Used to describe a planet or moon that is more than 50% illuminated.
Asterism: A noteworthy or striking pattern of stars within a larger constellation.
Degrees (measuring the sky): The sky is 360 degrees all the way around, which means roughly 180 degrees from horizon to horizon. It’s easy to measure distances between objects: Your fist on an outstretched arm covers about 10 degrees of sky, while a finger covers about one degree.
Visual Magnitude: This is the astronomer’s scale for measuring the brightness of objects in the sky. The dimmest object visible in the night sky under perfectly dark conditions is about magnitude 6.5. Brighter stars are magnitude 2 or 1. The brightest objects get negative numbers. Venus can be as bright as magnitude minus 4.9. The full moon is minus 12.7 and the sun is minus 26.8.
Terminator: The boundary on the moon between sunlight and shadow.
Zenith: The point in the sky directly overhead.
Night Sky Observing Tips
Adjust to the dark: If you wish to observe fainter objects, such as meteors, dim stars, nebulas, and galaxies, give your eyes at least 15 minutes to adjust to the darkness. Avoid looking at your phone’s bright screen by keeping it tucked away. If you must use it, set the brightness to minimum – or cover it with clingy red film.
Light Pollution: Even from a big city, one can see the moon, a handful of bright stars, and the brightest planets – if they are above the horizon. But to fully enjoy the heavens — especially a meteor shower, the fainter constellations, or to see the amazing swath across the sky that is the disk of our home galaxy, the Milky Way — rural areas are best for night sky viewing. If you’re stuck in a city or suburban area, use a tree or dark building to block ambient light (or moonlight) and help reveal fainter sky objects. If you’re in the suburbs, simply turning off outdoor lights can help.
Prepare for skywatching: If you plan to be outside for more than a few minutes, and it’s not a warm summer evening, dress more warmly than you think is necessary. An hour of winter observing can chill you to the bone. For meteor showers, a blanket or lounge chair will prove to be much more comfortable than standing, or sitting in a chair and craning your neck to see overhead.
Daytime skywatching: On the days surrounding first quarter, the moon is visible in the afternoon daytime sky. At last quarter, the moon rises before sunrise and lingers into the morning daytime sky. When Venus is at a significant angle away from the sun it can often be spotted during the day as a brilliant point of light – but you’ll need to consult an astronomy app to know when and where to look for it. When large sunspots develop on the sun, they can be seen without a telescope – as long as you use proper solar filters, such as eclipse glasses. Permanent eye damage can occur if you look at the sun for any length of time without protective eyewear.