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The night sky tonight and on any clear night offers an ever-changing display of fascinating objects you can see, from stars and constellations to bright planets, often the moon, and sometimes special events like meteor showers. Observing the night sky can be done with no special equipment, although a sky map can be very useful, and a good beginner telescope or binoculars will enhance some experiences and bring some otherwise invisible objects into view. You can also use astronomy accessories to make your observing easier., and use our Satellite Tracker page powered by N2YO.com to find out when to see the International Space Station and other satellites. Below, find out what's up in the night sky tonight (Planets Visible Now, Moon Phases, Observing Highlights This Month) plus other resources (Skywatching Terms, Night Sky Observing Tips and Further Reading).

The night sky is more than just the moon and stars, if you know when and where to look.
The night sky is more than just the moon and stars, if you know when and where to look.
Credit: Karl Tate/SPACE.com

Monthly skywatching information is provided to Space.com by Geoff Gaherty of Starry Night Education, the leader in space science curriculum solutions. Follow Starry Night on Twitter @StarryNightEdu.

Editor's note: If you have an amazing skywatching photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com


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Saturday, June 4, 11:00 p.m. EDT

New Moon

The Moon is not visible on the date of New Moon because it is too close to the Sun, but can be seen low in the East as a narrow crescent a morning or two before, just before sunrise. It is visible low in the West an evening or two after New Moon.

Saturday, June 4, 11:00 p.m. EDT. Because it will be too near the sun, the New Moon will not be visible, with two exceptions: just before sunrise a day or two before the date it will be visible low in the East and a day or two after the date it will be visible at sunset low in the West.
Saturday, June 4, 11:00 p.m. EDT. Because it will be too near the sun, the New Moon will not be visible, with two exceptions: just before sunrise a day or two before the date it will be visible low in the East and a day or two after the date it will be visible at sunset low in the West.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Sunday, June 12, 4:10 a.m. EDT

First Quarter Moon

The First Quarter Moon rises around 12:30 p.m. and sets around 1:40 a.m. It dominates the evening sky.

Sunday, June 12, 4:10 a.m. EDT. The First Quarter Moon rises around 12:30 p.m. and sets around 2:30 a.m. It dominates the evening sky.
Sunday, June 12, 4:10 a.m. EDT. The First Quarter Moon rises around 12:30 p.m. and sets around 2:30 a.m. It dominates the evening sky.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Monday, June 20, 7:02 a.m. EDT 

Full Moon

The June Full Moon is known as the Mead Moon, Strawberry Moon, Rose Moon, or Thunder Moon. It rises around sunset and sets around sunrise; this is the only night in the month when the Moon is in the sky all night long. The rest of the month, the Moon spends at least some time in the daytime sky.

Monday, June 20, 7:02 a.m. EDT. The June Full Moon, which has several nicknames, rises around sunset and sets around sunrise. This is the only night the moon is in the sky all night long.
Monday, June 20, 7:02 a.m. EDT. The June Full Moon, which has several nicknames, rises around sunset and sets around sunrise. This is the only night the moon is in the sky all night long.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Monday, June 27, 2:19 p.m. EDT

Last Quarter Moon

The Last Quarter Moon rises around 1:00 a.m. and sets around 1:30 p.m. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.

Monday, June 27, 2:19 p.m. EDT. The Last Quarter Moon rises around 1:00 a.m. and sets around 1:30 p.m. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.
Monday, June 27, 2:19 p.m. EDT. The Last Quarter Moon rises around 1:00 a.m. and sets around 1:30 p.m. It is most easily seen just after sunrise in the southern sky.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Saturn at opposition

Friday, June 3, 3:00 a.m. EDT

Saturn is directly opposite the Sun in the sky, and is visible all night long.

Friday, June 3, 3:00 a.m. EDT. Saturn is directly opposite the Sun in the sky, and is visible all night long.
Friday, June 3, 3:00 a.m. EDT. Saturn is directly opposite the Sun in the sky, and is visible all night long.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Mercury north of Moon

Friday, June 3, dawn

Mercury rises just before the Sun, about a degree north of the Moon, making it easy to spot.

Friday, June 3, dawn. Mercury rises just before the Sun.
Friday, June 3, dawn. Mercury rises just before the Sun.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Mercury at greatest elongation West

Sunday, June 5, 5:00 a.m. EDT

Mercury will be at its greatest distance from the Sun in a westward direction. This is a fair apparition for southern observers, but a poor one for northerners, as Mercury is still close to the horizon at sunrise.

Sunday, June 5, 5:00 a.m. EDT. At its greatest western distance from the Sun, Mercury will be close to the horizon at sunrise.
Sunday, June 5, 5:00 a.m. EDT. At its greatest western distance from the Sun, Mercury will be close to the horizon at sunrise.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Jupiter west of Moon

Saturday, June 11, sunset

Jupiter will be just west of the waxing crescent Moon at sunset.

Saturday, June 11, sunset. Jupiter will be west of the waxing crescent moon at sunset.
Saturday, June 11, sunset. Jupiter will be west of the waxing crescent moon at sunset.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Solstice

Monday, June 20, 6:34 p.m. EDT

The Sun reaches its farthest declination north, marking midsummer in the Northern Hemisphere and midwinter in the South.

Monday, June 20, 6:34 p.m. EDT. The Sun marks midsummer in the Northern Hemisphere, and midwinter in the Southern, reaching its farthest declination north.
Monday, June 20, 6:34 p.m. EDT. The Sun marks midsummer in the Northern Hemisphere, and midwinter in the Southern, reaching its farthest declination north.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Mercury will be visible low on the eastern horizon just before sunrise early in the month, reaching maximum elongation on June 5.

Mercury will be visible low on the eastern horizon just before sunrise early in the month, reaching maximum elongation on June 5.
Mercury will be visible low on the eastern horizon just before sunrise early in the month, reaching maximum elongation on June 5.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Venus is too close to the Sun to be observed.

Venus is too close to the Sun to be observed.
Venus is too close to the Sun to be observed.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Mars was in opposition to the Sun on May 22, and closest to Earth on May 30, so continues to dominate the evening sky in Libra. Saturn is nearby in Ophiuchus.

Mars was in opposition to the Sun on May 22, and closest to Earth on May 30, so continues to dominate the evening sky in Libra. Saturn is nearby in Ophiuchus.
Mars was in opposition to the Sun on May 22, and closest to Earth on May 30, so continues to dominate the evening sky in Libra. Saturn is nearby in Ophiuchus.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Jupiter is well placed in the evening sky in Leo. It sets after midnight.

Jupiter is well placed in the evening sky in Leo. It sets after midnight.
Jupiter is well placed in the evening sky in Leo. It sets after midnight.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Saturn is in opposition on June 3 in Ophiuchus. Being directly opposite the Sun, it is visible all night. The rings are spread wide, making it a beautiful sight in any telescope.

Saturn is in opposition on June 3 in Ophiuchus. Being directly opposite the Sun, it is visible all night. The rings are spread wide, making it a beautiful sight in any telescope.
Saturn is in opposition on June 3 in Ophiuchus. Being directly opposite the Sun, it is visible all night. The rings are spread wide, making it a beautiful sight in any telescope.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Uranus, in Pisces, rises around 2:30 a.m., and is visible the rest of the night.

Uranus, in Pisces, rises around 2:30 a.m., and is visible the rest of the night.
Uranus, in Pisces, rises around 2:30 a.m., and is visible the rest of the night.
Credit: Starry Night Software

Neptune, in Aquarius, rises around 1 a.m., and is visible the rest of the night.

Neptune, in Aquarius, rises around 1 a.m., and is visible the rest of the night.
Neptune, in Aquarius, rises around 1 a.m., and is visible the rest of the night.
Credit: Starry Night Software
  • Asterism: A noteworthy or striking pattern of stars within a larger constellation.
  • Degrees (measuring the sky): The sky is 360 degrees all the way around, which means roughly 180 degrees from horizon to horizon. It’s easy to measure distances between objects: Your fist on an outstretched arm covers about 10 degrees of sky.
  • Visual Magnitude: This is the astronomer’s scale for measuring the brightness of objects in the sky. The dimmest object visible in the night sky under perfectly dark conditions is about magnitude 6.5. Brighter stars are magnitude 2 or 1. The brightest objects get negative numbers. Venus can be as bright as magnitude minus 4.9. The full moon is minus 12.7 and the sun is minus 26.8.
  • Terminator: The boundary on the moon between sunlight and shadow.
  • Zenith: The point in the sky directly overhead.
  • Adjust to the dark: If you wish to observe faint objects, such as meteors or dim stars, give your eyes at least 15 minutes to adjust to the darkness.
  • Light Pollution: Even from a big city, one can see the moon, a handful of bright stars and sometimes the brightest planets. But to fully enjoy the heavens — especially a meteor shower, the constellations, or to see the amazing swath across the sky that represents our view toward the center of the Milky Way Galaxy — rural areas are best for night sky viewing. If you’re stuck in a city or suburban area, a building can be used to block ambient light (or moonlight) to help reveal fainter objects. If you’re in the suburbs, simply turning off outdoor lights can help.
  • Prepare for skywatching: If you plan to be out for more than a few minutes, and it’s not a warm summer evening, dress warmer than you think necessary. An hour of observing a winter meteor shower can chill you to the bone. A blanket or lounge chair will prove much more comfortable than standing or sitting in a chair and craning your neck to see overhead.
  • Daytime skywatching: When Venus is visible (that is, not in front of or behind the sun) it can often be spotted during the day. But you’ll need to know where to look. A sky map is helpful. When the sun has large sunspots, they can be seen without a telescope. However, it’s unsafe to look at the sun without protective eyewear. See our video on how to safely observe the sun, or our safe sunwatching infographic.

Moon Phases: How the lunar cycle works, from full moon to new moon. Also find out when is the next full moon.

Constellations: The history of the Zodiac constellations and their place in night sky observing.

Lunar Eclipses: How they work, plus find out when’s the next lunar eclipse.

Solar Eclipses: How they work, the types, and when the next one occurs.