What to see in the night sky in June 2021

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

June highlights

Venus is in the evening sky too, but remains low in twilight from northern latitudes. It climbs high in the skies of the southern hemisphere. Jupiter and Saturn are easy to see in the morning sky. An annular eclipse of the Sun crosses the Arctic on 10 June, and will be visible as a partial eclipse from much of Europe, North America and Asia.


June’s star chart

Click on the image above, or the following text for an interactive map of constellations visible in the sky. It can be adjusted for any time and date.

We also have a map of the night sky set up for mid-latitudes in the southern hemisphere.


The stars in June 2021

As it grows dark at northern latitudes where the Sun has set, the bright star Capella can be seen low in the northwestern sky. To its upper right, look for the familiar W shape of Cassiopeia below the north celestial pole, which is marked by the star Polaris. High on the opposite side of this pole star, and almost overhead, see the familiar shape of the Plough, or Big Dipper, which resembles a saucepan and is part of the constellation of Ursa Major. If you follow the curve of the handle of this “saucepan”, you will come to a bright car called Arcturus, in the constellation of Bootes.

In the western sky, the constellation of Leo is now sinking, its head resembling a backwards question mark, and including the bright star Regulus. Over in the eastern sky, the Summer Triangle is rising at this time. This is a large asterism rather than a constellation, and is formed of three stars, Vega, Deneb and Altair, which are the brightest stars in the constellations of Lyra, Cygnus and Aquila, respectively.

In the Southern Hemisphere, you can still catch Gemini low to the northwest as the sky gets dark, plus the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, further to its south. Over in the southeast, the prominent constellation of Scorpius is rising. Crux, the Southern Cross, is at its highest, above the south celestial pole followed by the bright stars Alpha and Beta Centauri.

Jupiter, at upper left, and Saturn, at upper right, pictured with the Moon over the sea on 1 June, from Walmer, UK. Image credit: Paul Sutherland

The planets in June 2021

Mercury

Mercury was sinking rapidly back towards the Sun in the evening sky as May ended, following an excellent apparition for astronomers at northern latitudes. This month it will be lost from view as it heads between the Earth and the Sun, reaching Inferior Conjunction on 11 June. Mercury then moves into the morning sky, though this will be an appearance better suited to southern hemisphere observers, who can expect to see the planet rise a few degrees above the north eastern horizon in the final week of the month, shining at around first magnitude.

See our guide on how to see Mercury for yourself. Also, read more about Mercury.

The crescent Moon and Mercury caught on the evening of 13 May, 2021, from Walmer, UK. Image credit: Paul Sutherland

Venus

Venus is in the evening sky, though the angle of its orbit to the horizon is shallow, meaning it doesn’t get very high for northern hemisphere observers. Despite its brightness at magnitude -3.8, it will be hidden by any hills, buildings or horizon cloud. Viewing conditions are quite different from southern latitudes, from where Venus will climb high in the evening sky as June progresses, making it a dazzling spectacle as daylight fades. Through a telescope, Venus shows a gibbous phase throughout the month. We have a special article about this apparition of Venus, and how it will appear during 2021.

Read more about planet Venus, and also see our general guide to observing Venus.

Mars

Mars is hanging on in the evening sky, racing eastwards from night to night, though the Sun will eventually catch up with it! Mars moves from the constellation of Gemini into Cancer on the 8th. It is still not difficult to spot in the evening sky, though much faded from its bright opposition showing last October. It now shines at just 1.7 at the start of June and 1.8 by month’s end. The crescent Moon will lie close by on the 13th.

Read our extensive guide to Mars.

Jupiter

Jupiter lies in Aquarius, brightening over the month from -2.4 to -2.6, and will be hard to miss in the morning sky. It rises before 2am at the start of the month, for northern hemisphere observers, and before midnight at month’s end. For southern hemisphere observers, Jupiter gets high in the sky after rising in the east before midnight at start of June and before 10pm by the end of the month. The Moon will lie nearby on 1 and 2 June, and again on the 29th. If you have binoculars or a telescope, you can easily see the four brightest satellites of Jupiter, the Galilean moons Io Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. A telescope will also reveal the belts and bands in Jupiter’s cloud tops.

Read more about planet Jupiter.

Saturn

Saturn shines at magnitude 0.4, so it resembles one of the brighter stars. It lies in the constellation of Capricornus, so will be low in the sky for those of us at mid-northern latitudes, though not difficult to spot in the morning sky. Saturn rises at around 1am for northern observers at the start of June, and and before midnight at the end of the month. From southern hemisphere sites, Saturn rises at around 10pm at the start of June and 8pm at the end of the month. The Moon will lie close by on 26 and 27 June.

Read more about Saturn.

Uranus

Uranus rises when the sky is already brightening in early June, from northerly latitudes, making it near impossible to spot. By the end of the month, it rises a little before 2am, making the task a little easier, though it will not have risen very high before twilight intrudes. From southern skies, Uranus is difficult to see at the start of June, rising just before twilight begins. By the end of the month, it stil rises after 3am, but will manage to reach enough elevation before dawn to be seen with binoculars, shining at magnitude 5.8.

Read more about Uranus.

Neptune

Neptune is in Aquarius, shining at 8th magnitude, so you will need binoculars or a small telescope to see it in the morning sky. It rises at around 2.30am in the east at the start of June, from northern latitudes, and a couple of hours earlier by the end of the month.

Read more about Neptune.


Three phases of a previous annular eclipse, photographed by the writer from Spain in 2005. Image credit: Paul Sutherland/Skymania

Annular eclipse of the Sun

An annular eclipse of the Sun occurs on 10 June, with a track that crosses parts of Canada, the Arctic, and Russia. The eclipse happens when the Moon is near apogee, its furthest from Earth, so its apparent diameter in the sky will not be big enough to cover the Sun’s disk completely. Much of North America, Europe and Northern Asia will see a partial eclipse of the Sun. For more about this eclipse and how to see it, visit our special guide to the solar eclipse of June 2021.

The SPA’s excellent video guide to observing the partial eclipse on 10 June. Credit: The Society for Popular Astronomy

June meteors

There is no major shower visible in June. But remember that meteors can appear at any time on any night of the year. We see most when a meteor shower is active. But other meteors also randomly appear which cannot be identified with a known shower, and these are known as sporadic meteors, or simply sporadics. Here is more about these meteors, and how many appear from what is known as the anthelion source.


The Moon

The Moon always makes a great target for a small telescope, which come into view as its phases change. We’ve a guide to where to find 50 of the best lunar features, plus a checklist to download so you can tick them off as you spot them! Don’t have a telescope? Here’s our guide to choosing one.

Lunar phases

Last Quarter:
02 June
New Moon:
10 June
First Quarter:
18 June
Full Moon:
24 June

Fifty fantastic features – our amazing Moon

Here’s our guide to observing some of the finest sights on the Moon with small telescopes. Our pages of charts will help you find interesting features to seek out yourself, including craters, lava flows, mountain ranges and deep chasms!


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