Mercury farthest from the sun on the sky’s dome on June 12, 2013.
The planet Mercury reaches its greatest evening elongation from the sun on June 12. No matter what time zone you’re in, or where you live worldwide, the best time to start looking for Mercury (and Venus) is about 45 to 60 minutes after sunset. Look for this star-like object above the dazzling planet Venus, and near the sunset point on the horizon. Binoculars may be helpful.
By a stroke of good fortune, Mercury shines a short hop above Venus, the sky’s brightest planet. In fact, both of these worlds should fit – or nearly fit – into the same binocular field of view. Use the waxing crescent moon to locate Venus close the horizon, and then look for Mercury to jump out over Venus.
Photo of the moon, Venus (lower) and Mercury (higher) over Cold Mountain, North Carolina, taken by Gary P Caton after sunset on June 10, 2013. See many more fine photos of the moon and planets at dusk on the EarthSky Facebook page.
Clear skies after sunset – plus an unobstructed horizon – will let you view one of the finest evening sky scenes of the year tonight! Read more …
The young waxing crescent moon pairs up with the planets Mercury and Venus after sunset June 10.
The first two celestial objects to pop out after sunset on June 10 are the moon and the dazzling planet Venus. That’s because the moon and Venus rank as the second-brightest and third-brightest heavenly bodies, respectively, after the sun. Look for them to shine low in the west-northwest (over the sunset point on the horizon) some 30 minutes after sunset. Then watch for the fainter planet Mercury to shine over Venus about 45 to 60 minutes after sundown.
It’ll be quite a hard to spot the young moon in the harsh glow of evening twilight tonight. You’ll need a crystal-clear sky, an unobstructed horizon in the direction of sunset and probably binoculars.
Two planets are low in evening twilight in June 2013. They are Mercury and Venus.
Three planets – Mercury, Venus and Saturn – can be seen first thing at evening dusk throughout June 2013. You have to catch Mercury and Venus in the glow of evening twilight, no later than about 45 to 60 minutes after sunset. Both of these worlds will follow the sun beneath the horizon at late dusk or nightfall. Meanwhile, Saturn is closer to overhead when night falls and stays out until the wee hours of the morning.
Early on this June evening, look to the southern sky shortly after sunset. The first star you will likely see, nearly due south, is sparkling blue-white Spica, in Virgo. (As seen from northerly latitudes, you’ll see another bright light above Spica: the golden planet Saturn.)
More about Spica: Spica is a whirling double star
Use the bright star Spica to help you find the constellations of Corvus the Crow, Crater the Cup, and Hydra the Water Snake.
Here are Mercury, Venus and Jupiter as seen on June 1, 2013 from our friend Jean Baptiste Feldmann in France. He wrote, “Les trois planètes alignées ce soir. Quelques secondes plus tard, Jupiter était derrière les arbres !” (The three planets aligned tonight. A few seconds later, Jupiter was behind the trees!) If you have binoculars and scan in bright twilight you might see Jupiter after the first week of June. But you’ll definitely see Venus and Mercury.
Venus and Mercury are visible in the western sky after sunset in June 2013. Jupiter was there early in the month, but is gone after the first week, only to return before dawn in late July 2013 for a spectacular conjunction with Mars in the predawn sky. For the Northern Hemisphere, June will provide the best evening showing of Mercury for 2013. Better yet, you can use Venus, the sky’s most brilliant planet, to locate nearby Mercury. Meanwhile, Saturn – shines noticeably brightly and highest up for the night around nightfall.
Look up in the northeast on these June nights for the two stars Rastaban and Eltanin.
Rastaban and Eltanin in the constellation Draco are noticeable because they’re relatively bright and so near each other. And they’re also near the brighter blue-white star Vega. You will always know you’ve seen Rastaban and Eltanin if you see Vega nearby. The stars stay fixed relative to each other. So it’s easy to use stars you do know to find stars you don’t know.
If you have a dark sky, you’ll be able to pick the constellation Draco the Dragon winding around the North Star, Polaris.
First find the Big Dipper high in the north on June evenings. The two outer stars in the Dipper’s bowl point to Polaris, the North Star, which marks the end of the Little Dipper’s handle.
The Little Dipper is relatively faint. If you can find both Dippers, then your sky is probably pretty dark. And you’ll need a dark sky to see Draco. You’ll have to let your eyes and imagination drift a bit to see the entire winding shape of the Dragon in the northern heavens.
The Big Dipper is easy to find. But the Little Dipper isn’t. Today – how to find the Little Dipper using the Big Dipper as a guide.
On June evenings, you can find the Big Dipper high in the north. Notice that it has two parts – a bowl and a handle. Look at the outer two stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper, those stars farthest from the handle. Those stars are sometimes called “The Pointers” because they point to the North Star, also called Polaris. And Polaris is the last star in the handle of the Little Dipper.
The Little Dipper is an asterism – a star pattern that is not a constellation …