Click on any planet below to go straight to its section.
The table below shows key data for the planets this month, including rise, transit and set times, as well as magnitude, apparent size and position data (right ascension and declination).
Events that occur when the sun is below the horizon are shown with a black background and white text. All other events happen when the sun is in the sky and other for not visible for observation.
The planetary excitement in June is that Saturn and Jupiter both grow and brighten as they head towards opposition in July. Jupiter is almost 50 arcseconds wide at the end of the month, with Saturn attaining almost 19 arcseconds. Both planets now reach their highest points above the horizon during the hours of darkness, making for great viewing.
Venus joins Saturn, Jupiter and Mars as a morning object this month, although it is not readily visible until the last week of June. Mars itself grows appreciably in size this June, and continues to do so until its opposition in October. Uranus and Neptune are also morning objects this month, and both are best viewed near the end of June.
Mercury is the only evening planet this month, best placed for viewing after sunset during the first week of June.
All of the images below can be opened full screen in a new tab by clicking on them
Mercury is visible 12° above the WNW horizon 45 minutes after sunset. This image is 09:15 pm.
Mercury is a speedy planet, and is already slipping from view by the 15th. This view, 45 minutes after sunset, shows it just 5° over the horizon.
By the 25th of June, Mercury sets within minutes of the sun and is no longer observable.
Mercury is best viewed at the start of June, when it is visible up to 15° above the horizon after sunset. Although bright, at magnitude 1.9, and large, at over 10 arcseconds across, it is only a thin crescent disc. Capture the planet in your telescope and observe that it is only 33% illuminated on the 5th an half that by the 15th.
A few days later, little Mercury is once more unobservable because it is too close to the sun. It’ll return to morning skies next month.
Two days past its inferior conjunction and Venus now rises minutes before the sun. It is not observable at this point.
Well placed observers may just steal a glimpse of from now. Venus is 4° above the horizon 30 minutes before sunrise.
We can start to study Venus properly towards the end of the month. This is the view 45 minutes before sunrise, Venus 10° above the horizon.
After months of watching Venus in our evening skies, it moves to be a morning object this month. It reaches inferior conjunction, when it is directly between us and the sun, on June third.
We may just catch a glimpse of the planet over an unobstructed horizon by mid-month, when the waxing crescent will be over 50 arcseconds in diameter but just 5% illuminated. By the end of the month, Venus is rising 2 hours before the sun and reaching over 12° above the horizon 45 minutes before sunrise.
On the 19th of June, the almost-new moon sails within 2° of Venus. See the ‘Events’ section for more details.
At 5am, Mars is 30° above the southeast horizon and shining at magnitude -0.1.
Also at 5am, Mars is visible 35° above the southeast horizon with a waning crescent moon nearby.
Mars now shines brightly at magnitude -0.4 and is easy to spot 40° above the southeast horizon at 4am.
Mars is getting closer, which means it is also getting larger and brighter in our telescopes. As it moves towards opposition opposition on October this year, Mars is steadily moving towards better dark sky visibility too.
All month long, Mars is best viewed in the time before dawn, when it will be at its highest. However, its height at that time climbs as the month progresses, from 30° over the horizon to 40°. Its disc size also grows appreciably from 9 arcseconds across to more than 11. This is certainly the month to begin paying more attention to the red planet and starting to tease out surface features.
Jupiter is 30° above the southern horizon in this 4am image, with Saturn riding close by. Both planets are headed for Capricornus.
It this image, little has changed except this is 3:30 am and Jupiter is transiting the south horizon.
The clock moves forward another half hour to 3 am in this image. Jupiter shines at magnitude -2.7 and is 46 arcseconds wide.
For the first time in many months, Jupiter transits (reaches its highest in the sky over the southern horizon) during the hours of darkness. At the beginning of June, transit time is around 4:30 am, and this has come forward to 2:30 am at the end of June.
This is happening because Jupiter reaches opposition in July, when it will be at its closest approach to Earth. This is great news for us as backyard astronomers because we the planet reaches a massive 46 arcseconds wide and will reveal wonderful levels of detail.
If you’re more of an evening astronomer, then July and August hold a treat for you as Jupiter becomes an evening planet, observable before bed time and still large and bright in our skies.
Saturn transits the south horizon around 4:30 am, as in the image above. It is 30° above the southern horizon and shining at magnitude 0.4.
This image is at 4 am and the ringed planet is nearer Capricornus than Jupiter, which is the brighter of the two planets.
Looking pretty much unchanged, this is the view of Saturn at 3:30 am.
Saturn also begins to transit during hours of darkness this month. It is following a similar pattern to Jupiter, heading for its opposition next month, just a week after Jupiter’s. Transit times are similar to Jupiter’s, 5 am at the start of June and 3am by the end.
The ringed planet is further away and smaller, so its disc only grows to 18 arcseconds by the end of June. However, this will still provide a spectacular display of its most prominent feature: the rings. Evening viewing is possible towards midnight at the end of June, but will be significantly more rewarding in July and August.
This is the view an hour before sunrise, when Uranus is 17° over the eastern horizon. The sky will already be brightening, so this will be a tricky spot. Conditions improve as June ages.
The most distant planet in our solar system hides near Mars in the middle of the month. This image is from 4 am, Neptune is at magnitude 7.9, 30° over the southeast horizon.
Both of the furthest planets can be seen this month. In reality, Uranus is a tough challenge because it is battling the summer solstice dawn light. Leaving it until later in the month brings best opportunities. Try and find it 90 minutes before sunrise, when the sky will be dark and Uranus is 24° above the horizon. Its tiny disc is shining at magnitude 5.8.
Neptune is better embedded in darkness, but harder to find because its 2.3 arcsecond disc only shines at magnitude 7.9. It too is best viewed at the end of the month when, at 4 am, it is fully 40° above the southeast horizon and just a few degrees from Mars.
Use the table below to see when each of the planets is observable for each day this month. Click on it for full screen or visit the ‘printables’ section for a downloadable PDF version.
A planet is classed as observable when it is more than 10° above the horizon and the sky is dark enough for it to be observed.