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Mercury

Mercury reached greatest elongation east during the last week of May and remains visible at the start of June as an early evening object, low down above the northwestern horizon just after sunset. However, shining at only magnitude +1.4 and fading it's not long before the planet is lost to the bright twilight glare.

Mercury then passes through inferior conjunction on June 19th and hence is unsuitably placed for observation for the remainder of the month, except for southern hemisphere and tropical observers who may be able to catch a glimpse of Mercury low down above the northeastern horizon just before sunrise at months end.

On June 15th, Mercury reaches aphelion when it's located 0.467 AU (approx. 69.9 million kilometres or 43.4 million miles) from the Sun.

Venus

Venus remains an early morning beacon of light throughout June. Although now reduced in brightness to magnitude -4.0, it's still brighter than all the other planets and unmistakable due to its brilliance.

From the Northern Hemisphere, Venus is visible for an hour so before sunrise although the visibility period does increase slightly each subsequent morning. Observers further south enjoy more than 3 hours of visibility before dawn at the beginning of June, although that figure decreases to 2 hours by months end.

The thin waning crescent Moon passes 1.3 degrees south of Venus on June 24th.

Mars

Mars is visible as soon it's dark enough amongst the stars of Virgo. The planet is now moving direct but fades in brightness from magnitude -0.5 to +0.0 and shrinks in apparent diameter from 11.8 to 9.5 arc seconds during June. This is still large enough for telescope observers to make out a good amount of surface detail, but its apparent diameter is fast decreasing. By the end of June, Mars sets around midnight for northern temperate latitudes and about one hour later from Southern Hemisphere locations.

A nice evening pairing occurs on June 8th when the waxing gibbous Moon passes 2 degrees south of Mars.

Mars during June 2014

Mars during June 2014 - pdf format

Jupiter

Jupiter, mag -1.8, is moving direct in Gemini just south of the constellation two brightest stars, Castor (α Gem - mag. +1.6) and Pollux (β Gem - mag. + 1.1). The long evening period of visibility of the giant planet is now slowly coming to an end as it heads towards solar conjunction next month. At the beginning of June, Jupiter is visible above the northwestern horizon for nearly 3 hours after sunset but by months end this is reduced to an hour.

On June 1st and 29th, the thin waxing crescent Moon passes 5.5 degrees south of Jupiter.

Saturn

The lovely ringed planet Saturn is now just passed opposition (May 10th) and visible after sunset towards the south-southeast from northern temperate latitudes or towards the east from southern temperate latitudes. Saturn then remains observable for most of the remainder of the night, with the planet situated higher in the sky from more southerly locations.

Saturn continues it's retrograde motion through the faint constellation of Libra, near to wonderful double star Zubenelgenubi (α Lib - mag. +2.75). The two brightest components of this multiple star system are easily separated with binoculars or small telescopes, revealing a beautiful yellow primary star alongside a fainter white coloured secondary component. Both Saturn and Zubenelgenubi are visible in the same binocular field of view.

Saturn's apparent brightness and size are now gradually decreasing as its distance from Earth increases. Consequently, Saturn's magnitude fades from +0.2 to +0.4 during June with its apparent diameter shrinking very slightly from 18.5 to 18.0 arc seconds.

Saturn imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope in October 1998 (NASA, The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI))

Saturn's wonder of course is its ring system. They are currently wide open and tilted at 21 degrees from our perspective. A small 80mm (3.1-inch) telescope will easily show them. A larger telescope with its increased light gathering capability will display a wealth of detail. For example, a 200mm (8-inch) scope under good seeing conditions can be used to up to 400x magnification and reveals the 0.7 arc seconds wide Cassini division, the Enke division, the hazy C-ring as well as up to half a dozen of Saturn's satellites.

On June 10th, the waxing gibbous Moon passes 0.6 degrees south of Saturn with an occultation visible from southern South Africa or Antarctica.

Saturn during June 2014

Saturn during June 2014 - pdf format

Uranus

Uranus is a morning object in Pisces. The planets visibility continues to steadily improve as the month progresses. The distant ice giant shines at magnitude +5.9 and therefore visible to the naked eye from a dark site. Most people don't have the luxury of such fine seeing conditions and therefore a pair of binoculars will be required to spot Uranus.

For northern hemisphere based observers at the start of June, Uranus rises in the east about 2 hours before sunrise. By months end the planet is much higher in the sky, rising more than 4 hours before the Sun. Southern hemisphere observers have it even better with Uranus well placed in the morning sky throughout June. At the start of June, the planet rises 4 hours before the Sun and by the end of the month it's visible from around midnight.

On June 21st, the waning crescent Moon passes 2 degrees north of Uranus.

Uranus during June 2014

Uranus during June 2014 - pdf format

Neptune

Neptune (mag. +7.9) is well placed for observation amongst the stars of Aquarius. The planet rises around midnight from northern temperate latitudes and up to a couple of hours earlier for those located further south. Neptune is currently located about 30 degrees southwest of the Great Square of Pegasus and just a few degrees northeast of star sigma (σ) Aqr (mag. +4.8).

On June 10th Neptune reaches its first stationary point, which signals the beginning of this year's opposition period. The planet then commences retrograde motion with the last quarter Moon passing 5 degrees north of Neptune on June 18th.

Neptune during June 2014

Neptune during June 2014 - pdf format

Solar System Data Table June 2014

 DateRight AscensionDeclinationApparent MagnitudeApparent SizeIllum. (%)Distance from Earth (AU)Constellation
Sun5th Jun 201404h 50m 55.8s22d 29m 17.5s-26.731.5'1001.015Taurus
Sun15th Jun 201405h 32m 18.2s23d 17m 05.6s-26.731.5'1001.016Taurus
Sun25th Jun 201406h 13m 53.5s23d 23m 56.1s-26.731.5'1001.016Gemini
Mercury5th Jun 201406h 11m 55.2s23d 33m 06.8s1.910.4"150.649Gemini
Mercury15th Jun 201406h 04m 28.3s20d 49m 44.0s4.212.0"020.561Orion
Mercury25th Jun 201405h 41m 58.4s18d 52m 00.0s4.011.7"030.576Taurus
Venus5th Jun 201402h 24m 51.2s12d 15m 12.0s-3.913.6"781.231Aries
Venus15th Jun 201403h 11m 05.2s15d 51m 44.5s-3.912.9"811.296Aries
Venus25th Jun 201403h 59m 08.9s18d 53m 41.2s-3.912.3"841.357Taurus
Mars5th Jun 201412h 38m 24.2s-03d 54m 17.3s-0.411.4"910.819Virgo
Mars15th Jun 201412h 46m 35.4s-05d 05m 51.1s-0.210.6"890.883Virgo
Mars25th Jun 201412h 58m 00.6s-06d 34m 18.9s-0.109.9"880.948Virgo
Jupiter5th Jun 201407h 30m 52.0s22d 08m 07.2s-1.932.7"1006.025Gemini
Jupiter15th Jun 201407h 39m 32.6s21d 49m 08.1s-1.832.2"1006.114Gemini
Jupiter25th Jun 201407h 48m 30.2s21d 27m 41.3s-1.831.9"1006.185Gemini
Saturn5th Jun 201415h 05m 01.2s-14d 50m 58.4s0.218.5"1008.993Libra
Saturn15th Jun 201415h 02m 40.3s-14d 42m 59.3s0.218.3"1009.079Libra
Saturn25th Jun 201415h 00m 47.1s-14d 37m 12.0s0.318.1"1009.188Libra
Uranus5th Jun 201400h 57m 53.4s05d 28m 12.3s5.903.4"10020.532Pisces
Uranus15th Jun 201400h 59m 05.3s05d 35m 23.9s5.903.5"10020.382Pisces
Uranus25th Jun 201401h 00m 01.6s05d 40m 56.7s5.903.5"10020.223Pisces
Neptune5th Jun 201422h 37m 24.7s-09d 27m 40.7s7.902.3"10029.840Aquarius
Neptune15th Jun 201422h 37m 24.7s-09d 28m 02.6s7.902.3"10029.674Aquarius
Neptune25th Jun 201422h 37m 12.7s-09d 29m 35.4s7.902.3"10029.517Aquarius