The night sky this June is rich in events for all you astrophiles and sky lovers. Jupiter, the largest of the four gas giant planets, will be in opposition. This is its closest point to us, which will occur on June 10, and will be particularly bright for the entire month.
Jupiter is perfectly visible without any tech and will be one of the brightest objects in the night sky, but if you have the chance to use a binocular or a telescope, do so. You’ll also be able to catch sight of the Galilean moons Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
“The solar system's largest planet is a brilliant jewel to the naked eye, but looks fantastic through binoculars or a small telescope, which will allow you to spot the four largest moons, and maybe even glimpse, a hint of the banded clouds that encircle the planet,” the NASA team at “What’s Up” said in a video on skywatching tips for June.
The four moons were discovered by Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei in 1610 and were used as evidence to show that not everything (and in reality, very little) orbits the Earth. Io, Europa, and Ganymede are in resonance. Io orbits Jupiter in 1.769 days, Europa is twice as long as that at 3.551, and Ganymede four times as long as Io at 7.155.
If Jupiter wasn't enough, there is also a planetary conjunction happening this month, which is when Mars and Mercury will be closer together in the Western sky.
“In mid-June, Mars and Mercury appear ultra-close together immediately after sunset for two days, on June 17th and 18th. You'll need a pretty clear view of the Western horizon to catch them, as the pair will be only a few degrees above it,” the video continues. The further from the equator you are, the lower they will be.
If the weather is nice and the sky is clear, you can try to catch these events. And to misquote Oscar Wilde, we are all in the gutter, so you might as well be the one looking at the stars.