For all planet hunters out there
From the start of the month Jupiter’s position just keeps getting better and better. At the start of the month it rises about 5:30 in the very early evening and by the end of the month it’s already a third of the way up the sky by that time. The best thing is that you won’t have to stay up too late to get the best views of Jupiter at the end of the month because the planet will be nearly straight up from around 10:30pm. With the minimum amount of atmosphere to look through you should see some fantastic detail on the planet and those who are into imaging the gas giant may be able to capture some of the activity that is going on with the Great Red Spot at the moment – which may have to change it’s name to the Mediocre Red Spot.
The other good news for the month is that Saturn will be about two hours behind Jupiter and so will be improving throughout the month as well. Saturn’s rings are also in a great position to observe as rather than being side on to them we are now as a great angle to see there thickness and some of the delicate banding including the dark band known as the Cassini Division. If you haven’t observed Saturn for a while then get out there and have a good look before the rings start to close up again – but don’t panic it’ll take about 6 years for the rings to appear edge on so there’s a good few months with them like they are now – but there’s not that many months where Saturn is so well placed in the sky to get such great views so make the most of the next three months of Winter.
Venus is nice and bright in the morning sky for the first part of the month, steadily getting closer and closer to the Sun. Mercury slowly improves its position over the month with it getting up close and personal with Mars in the early evening of 19 June. They are about 22 arc minutes apart at around 6pm but very low on the horizon so you’ll need a very clear view of the North Western horizon to have any chance of seeing them. They should be visible from about 5:30 at about 10 degrees above the horizon if you have a pair of binoculars trained on the right spot.
The Moon and Pluto have a visually close encounter at 10pm also on the 19th June. Good luck seeing it though given the huge difference in brightness of the two celestial objects.