Mercury

Mercury remains an early morning object from southern and tropical regions during the first half of the month. From such locations, the planet can be glimpsed low down above the east-northeastern horizon just before sunrise. However, it's not long before it's lost to the bright twilight sky and by the second week of the month it will be difficult to spot. Mercury then heads towards superior conjunction, which it reaches on June 21st.

From northern temperate latitudes, the planet is unsuitably placed for observation throughout June.

Mercury 45 minutes before sunrise from mid-latitude southern locations (credit:- freestarcharts)

Venus

The current morning apparition of Venus peaks on June 3rd when it reaches greatest elongation west. On this day the planet will be positioned 46 degrees from the Sun. From southern locations, it rises nearly over 3.5 hours before sunrise although for only about half this time from mid-latitude northern locations. The brilliant planet shines at mag. -4.4 and is therefore an unmistakable beacon of light that hovers above the eastern horizon. It remains well placed in the morning sky for the remainder of the month.

On June 2nd, Venus passes 2 degrees south of Uranus and observers with binoculars and wide-field telescopes should be able to spot both planets in the same field of view. The magnitude contrast is extreme with Venus over 10,000 times brighter than Uranus (mag. +5.9).

On June 12th, Venus reaches aphelion when it's 0.728 AU (approx. 109 million kilometres or 67.7 million miles) distant from the Sun. Later on June 20th, the thin waning crescent Moon passes 2 degrees south of the planet, providing pleasant viewing for early risers.

Venus remains an early morning object this month (credit:- freestarcharts)

Mars

Mars is unsuitably placed for observation this month as it heads towards solar conjunction in July.

Jupiter

Jupiter remains a brilliant evening object. The gas giant is unmistakable in the constellation of Virgo and is visible as soon as darkness falls. By months end it sets about an hour after midnight.

The largest planet in the Solar System begins the month moving slowly retrograde. On June 10th, it reaches its second stationary point and after that direct motion is resumed. This event is widely regarded as signalling the end of the current opposition period. To the unaided eye, Jupiter will hardly appear to move this month, relative to the background stars.

On June 1st, the planet shines at mag. -2.3 and has an apparent diameter of 41 arc seconds. At the end of the month, it dims down to mag. -2.1 with an apparent diameter of 37 arc seconds.

The waxing gibbous Moon passes 2 degrees south of Jupiter on June 3rd.

Jupiter during June 2017 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Jupiter during June 2017 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Saturn

Saturn, mag. 0.0, reaches opposition in Ophiuchus on June 15th. This month, the sixth planet from the Sun is at its best for the year and practically visible all night long. With a declination of -22 degrees, Saturn is much better placed from southern and tropical locations, where it appears higher in the sky and has a longer visibility period than from northern temperate latitudes.

At opposition, Saturn is 9.043 AU (1,353 million kilometres or 841 million miles) from Earth. Even a small telescope will show its most famous feature, the spectacular ring system. Also visible is Titan, the largest and brightest moon, which at 8th magnitude can be seen with binoculars. Small scopes reveal other moons including Rhea, Tethys and Dione. Saturn's disk spans 18.4 arc seconds in diameter.

On June 10th, the almost full Moon passes 3 degrees north of Saturn.

Saturn as imaged by the Cassini space probe (credit:- NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

Saturn during June 2017 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Saturn during June 2017 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Uranus

Uranus, mag. +5.9, is now a morning object in Pisces. For northern temperate observers, the planet remains low down during the early part of the month but by months end rises three hours before the Sun. Observers located further south have it even better with Uranus well placed throughout the month. On June 30th, from such locations it rises a couple of hours after midnight.

As previously mentioned, Venus will pass 2 degrees south of Uranus on June 2nd. The waning crescent Moon passes 4 degrees south of Uranus on June 19th.

Neptune

Neptune, mag. +7.9, is now well placed for observation in Aquarius. By months end the distant planet rises around midnight from northern temperate latitudes, but much earlier for those located further south.

Neptune is located 30 degrees south and slightly west of the centre of the Great Square of Pegasus. Lambda Aqr (λ Aqr - mag. +3.7) is positioned 2.5 degrees west-southwest of the planet. Neptune is the only planet that's not visible to the naked eye, but it can be easily seen with binoculars and small telescopes.

On June 16th, Neptune reaches its first stationary point, which signals the beginning of this year's opposition period. The planet then commences retrograde motion. On the same evening, the waning gibbous Moon passes less than a degree to the south.

Neptune during June 2017 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Neptune during June 2017 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Solar System Data Table June 2017

 DateRight AscensionDeclinationApparent MagnitudeApparent SizeIllum. (%)Distance from Earth (AU)Constellation
Sun5th Jun 201704h 51m 52.6s22d 30m 49.4s-26.731.5'1001.015Taurus
Sun15th Jun 201705h 33m 15.2s23d 17m 40.3s-26.731.5'1001.016Taurus
Sun25th Jun 201706h 14m 50.9s23d 23m 34.6s-26.731.5'1001.016Gemini
Mercury5th Jun 201703h 37m 39.0s17d 36m 05.5s-0.605.9"741.140Taurus
Mercury15th Jun 201704h 58m 26.7s22d 42m 11.5s-1.505.2"951.286Taurus
Mercury25th Jun 201706h 33m 23.4s24d 42m 42.6s-1.905.1"981.320Gemini
Venus5th Jun 201701h 49m 14.5s08d 45m 09.7s-4.423.4"500.712Pisces
Venus15th Jun 201702h 27m 51.8s11d 49m 04.3s-4.321.1"550.793Aries
Venus25th Jun 201703h 09m 01.2s14d 49m 51.7s-4.219.1"600.872Aries
Mars5th Jun 201705h 59m 54.5s24d 19m 46.0s+1.703.7"992.546Taurus
Mars15th Jun 201706h 28m 57.5s24d 12m 56.9s+1.703.6"1002.578Gemini
Mars25th Jun 201706h 57m 40.8s23d 46m 13.7s+1.703.6"1002.606Gemini
Jupiter5th Jun 201712h 50m 04.3s-03d 49m 32.9s-2.240.3"994.893Virgo
Jupiter15th Jun 201712h 50m 02.9s-03d 52m 16.4s-2.239.2"995.035Virgo
Jupiter25th Jun 201712h 51m 07.0s-04d 01m 52.7s-2.138.0"995.185Virgo
Saturn5th Jun 201717h 38m 31.7s-21d 58m 50.0s+0.118.3"1009.059Ophiuchus
Saturn15th Jun 201717h 35m 22.6s-21d 57m 41.2s0.018.4"1009.043Ophiuchus
Saturn25th Jun 201717h 32m 13.0s-21d 56m 33.9s0.018.4"1009.056Ophiuchus
Uranus5th Jun 201701h 40m 48.3s09d 51m 12.3s+5.903.4"10020.598Pisces
Uranus15th Jun 201701h 42m 19.2s09d 59m 39.3s+5.903.4"10020.466Pisces
Uranus25th Jun 201701h 43m 36.2s10d 06m 43.7s+5.903.5"10020.319Pisces
Neptune5th Jun 201723h 02m 22.9s-07d 07m 25.0s+7.902.3"10029.926Aquarius
Neptune15th Jun 201723h 02m 31.1s-07d 07m 00.1s+7.902.3"10029.758Aquarius
Neptune25th Jun 201723h 02m 27.2s-07d 07m 50.1s+7.902.3"10029.595Aquarius

Sky Highlights - July 2017

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for July

Meteor Shower
Southern Delta Aquariids (Aquarids) meteor shower peaks on July 29

Northern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Mercury (mag. -0.5 to +0.3) (second half of month)
Southwest:- Jupiter (mag. -2.0)
South:- Saturn (mag. +0.2)
Midnight
West:- Jupiter
South:- Saturn
East:- Neptune (mag. +7.8)
Morning
Southwest:- Saturn
South:- Neptune
Southeast:- Uranus (mag. +5.8)
East:- Venus (mag. -4.1)

Southern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Mercury (second half of month)
Northwest:- Jupiter
East:- Saturn
Midnight
West:- Jupiter
North:- Saturn
East:- Neptune
Morning
West:- Saturn
North:- Neptune
Northeast:- Venus, Uranus

Deep Sky

Small telescopes:-
Messier 13 - M13 - Great Hercules Globular Cluster
Messier 92 - M92 - Globular Cluster
Messier 11 - M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 7 - M7 - The Ptolemy Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 6 - M6 - The Butterfly Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 4 - M4 - Globular Cluster
Messier 8 - M8 - Lagoon Nebula (Emission Nebula)
Messier 16 - M16 - Eagle Nebula (Emission Nebula with Open Cluster)
Messier 20 - M20 - Trifid Nebula (Emission and Reflection Nebula)

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