The brightest planets in June's night sky: How to see them (and when)

the silhouette of a telescope in front of a starry night sky
June is an ideal month for (Image credit: Getty Images/Anton Petrus)

Slowly emerging back into view after being hidden for several weeks in the glare of the sun will be Jupiter. You should be able to find it during the second of June, very near to the east-northeast horizon about 45 minutes before sunrise. With each passing morning, this giant planet will rise a few minutes earlier and will appear a little higher as it pulls away from the sun. 

Another planet – Mercury – will pass very close to Jupiter on the morning of June 4, but thanks to their very low altitude as well as the bright background sky, both planets are going to be very tough to fish out of the twilight, even with good binoculars. Speaking of Mercury, by the end of June it will be an evening object and will be worth searching for about a half hour after sunset, low above the west-northwest horizon, forming an almost straight line with two out-of-season winter stars, Pollux and Castor. Binoculars will be most beneficial to spot this trio. 

Related: Night sky, June 2024: What you can see tonight [maps]
Read more: Best telescopes for seeing planets in 2024

Mars is finally becoming more evident in the morning sky and you can finally make at predawn sighting of it, as it is now rising before the first light of dawn. Use a waning crescent moon as a benchmark to identify it low in the eastern sky on June 3. And you can also use a waning gibbous moon to make a positive identification of Saturn on June 27 in the southeast sky a few hours before sunup. 

The only planet out of the loop this entire month is Venus; you won't have a chance at getting even a glimpse of it until later next month, in the evening sky.


A Celestron telescope on a white background

(Image credit: Celestron)

Looking for a telescope to see the planets in June? We recommend the Celestron Astro Fi 102 as the top pick in our best beginner's telescope guide

In our schedule, remember that when measuring the angular separation between two celestial objects, your clenched fist held at arm's length measures roughly 10 degrees.  Here, we present a schedule below which provides some of the best planet viewing times as well directing you as to where to look to see them.

Be sure to check out our best telescopes for viewing planets guide and our more general guides for the best binoculars and the best telescopes. If you're interested in taking your own impressive skywatching images, we have recommendations for the best cameras for astrophotography and the best lenses for astrophotography.  

The sun

An illustration of the sun at the moment of solstice on June 20, 2024. (Image credit: Chris Vaughn/Starry Night Software)

While not a planet, the sun reaches an important milestone this month. The sun reaches the solstice, its northernmost point on the celestial sphere, at 4:51 p.m. EDT (2051 GMT) on June 20 and thereafter begins its six-month return south. This ushers in summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere.  


An illustration of Mercury as it will appear in the night sky of June 2024. (Image credit: Chris Vaughn/Starry Night Software)

Mercury is rapidly heading for superior conjunction on June 14, a day after passing the perihelion point of its orbit. Hence this inner planet emerges very quickly into the evening sky. Skywatchers at mid-northern latitudes should begin to see Mercury in the evening sky without optical aid starting around June 22 — the beginning of a long but rather low apparition. 

By month's end Mercury will have faded to magnitude -0.6, but it's far enough from the sun to remain about 5° above the west-northwestern horizon 45 minutes after sunset. On that last day of June Mercury forms a nearly perfect straight line with the "Twin Stars," Castor and Pollux, 6° left of the latter. See also "Jupiter" below. 


An illustration of Venus as it will appear in the night sky of June 2024. (Image credit: Chris Vaughn/Starry Night Software)

Venus is on the far side of the sun (superior conjunction) on June 4. So, this normally prominent planet is lost in the solar glare all month. In fact, it will actually pass directly behind the sun, as it has done every June at 8 year intervals since 1976, a 10-event series that will come to an end in the year 2048. 


An illustration of Mars as it will appear in the night sky of June 2024. (Image credit: Chris Vaughn/Starry Night Software)

Mars, after spending the first half of this year dawdling in the bright morning twilight, is now rising before morning twilight, and is about 12° above the eastern horizon an hour before sunrise at the beginning of June, increasing to roughly 24° by month's end. 

During early June it is crossing from Pisces into Aries in its eastward rush against the stars. On June 3, look very low toward the east around 4 a.m. local daylight time for a slender crescent moon and about a half-dozen degrees to its right is a relatively bright (magnitude +1.0) orange light; that will be Mars.  


An illustration of Jupiter as it will appear in the night sky of June 2024. (Image credit: Chris Vaughn/Starry Night Software)

Jupiter begins June rising only about 30 minutes before the sun, but by month's end that figure swells to more than 2 hours. Jupiter shines at magnitude -2.0 roughly between Aldebaran and the Pleiades. Early on the morning of June 4, presents an opportunity to view two bright planets coming exceptionally close to each other, as Mercury passes a mere 0.1-degree south of Jupiter. 

This would be a very striking sight if these planets were situated farther away from the sun in the sky, but unfortunately both are situated only 12 degrees west of the sun, placing them very low near the east-northeast horizon and mired in bright morning twilight. Odds are long that you'll be able to see them, but if you want to try, use binoculars and slowly scan just above the east-northeast horizon about a half-hour before sunrise. 


An illustration of Saturn as it will appear in the night sky of June 2024. (Image credit: Chris Vaughn/Starry Night Software)

Saturn rises in the east-southeast around 2 a.m. at the beginning of June, and about two hours earlier (3.5 hours after sunset) at month's end. But the best view of it comes as the eastern sky is beginning to brighten, when Saturn hangs fairly high in the southeast. Saturn begins retrograde (westward) motion against the starry background on June 30 with 4th-magnitude Phi Aquarii just 2.2-degrees northwest of it. 

The planet reaches western quadrature on June 9, so throughout this month telescope users should notice Saturn's shadow on the rings just off to the west ("preceding") side of the planet. 

Also, by month's end, the rings are their most closed for the year, appearing only 1.9-degrees from edgewise. On June 27, looking about one-third up in the east-southeast sky at around 3 a.m. local daylight time, you'll see a waning gibbous moon and shining about 4.5 degrees to its left will be a relatively bright (magnitude +1.1) light glowing with a yellowish-white tint. That object is Saturn.

Joe Rao serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmers' Almanac and other publications.

Editor's Note: If you get a great photo of any of the planets and would like to share it with's readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to

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Joe Rao
Skywatching Columnist

Joe Rao is's skywatching columnist, as well as a veteran meteorologist and eclipse chaser who also serves as an instructor and guest lecturer at New York's Hayden Planetarium. He writes about astronomy for Natural History magazine, the Farmers' Almanac and other publications. Joe is an 8-time Emmy-nominated meteorologist who served the Putnam Valley region of New York for over 21 years. You can find him on Twitter and YouTube tracking lunar and solar eclipses, meteor showers and more. To find out Joe's latest project, visit him on Twitter.

  • rod
    Good to see in the report Starry Night used for some charts. I use and enjoy very much in my stargazing as well as planet observations and asteroid tracking like 4 Vesta in Cetus now, moving retrograde. In my observation log (MS ACCESS DB), I load up views of the sky from Starry Night into my log entry along with various ephemeris generated that I import into Excel - works very well.