What’s Up for June Skies?
Venus begins its reign as the bright “evening star” in June. Look low to the west-northwest for the bright starlike planet. Venus is so bright that you should be able to see it even before it is totally dark. As seen from Earth, Venus continues to move away from the Sun, setting an hour after sunset by the end of the month. Venus continues its ascent throughout the rest of 2013, setting a full 3 hours after sunset in November.
Mercury is at its best in June. Never as bright as Venus and orbiting closer to the Sun, it is more difficult to see. Mercury is at its highest on June 12, when it is about a hand’s width east of Venus in the sky. In late June, Mercury appears to stop and head towards the Sun again. By the end of the month, it will be gone.
June evenings are a great time to look for Leo, the Lion. First, find the Big Dipper. It will be hanging upside down high in the northern sky. Then, pretend that the dipper has sprung a leak and that the water drips out of the bottom of the saucepan and up into the sky. That water will fall right onto the back of Leo. The brightest star in Leo is called Regulus, whose name means prince or little king. Regulus is actually four stars that orbit each other.