Our Sky Guide for June 2020 tells you exactly which stars, planets and other sky objects you can discover when and where. Here is an overview of the "classics" of the June nights:
Milky Way ahead
Not only the silvery blue glowing noctilucent clouds can be seen now in June with a little luck. This rare phenomenon only occurs in the summer months and occurs when very high clouds (at an altitude of 80 kilometres!) are caught by sunlight in the onset of darkness. In the clear, dark summer nights, the delicate, shimmering band of the Milky Way appears in the sky. The band of stars can be seen in the cloudless sky from midnight, when it is nice and dark, about two to three handbreadths wide. It is best to wait until 19 June - then is new moon and you have the best conditions for your observations.
Now, in summer, the Milky Way rises vertically from the southern sky - in winter it lies horizontally - and you have a clear view of the centre of our galaxy. Here are a few particularly pretty objects that you can discover with a telescope: The Shrimp Nebula IC 4628, an area of the Milky Way where new stars are formed, or the Sombrero Galaxy, a spiral galaxy with a bright, large bulge at its center.
Summer Triangle Midnight high in the east
It gets dark late in June, the white nights have begun. Only at midnight is it dark enough for you to discover the stars of the summer triangle high in the east: Vega in the lyre, shimmering bluish-white, Atair in the eagle and Daneb in the swan. At this time Hercules, the fifth largest constellation, is high in the sky. Serpent Bearers and Libra can be found in the south, where Antares in Scorpio also sparkles brightly and reddishly.
Mercury for a short visit, Jupiter dominates the night and Venus turns into the morning star
In the first week of June, Mercury can still be discovered shortly after sunset, from half past nine in the morning. The innermost planet in our solar system is in the constellation of Gemini and appears as a tiny dot deep in the west.
After midnight, around half past one, Jupiter appears - and the gas giant cannot be overlooked due to its size. With an apparent brightness of -2.6 mag, it outshines every star or other planet in the night sky. It is followed at about one o'clock by Saturn, which you can make out about two finger breadths to the left of Jupiter, and at three o'clock Mars also peels away over the south-eastern horizon. In the course of the month all three planets rise a little earlier and earlier, so that you can observe Jupiter at the end of June from half past ten, Saturn from about half past eleven and Mars from two o'clock in the morning.
From the middle of June on the morning eastern sky, shortly before five o'clock, an old acquaintance appears again: Venus has changed from an evening star to a morning star. At dawn, however, it is not yet so easily visible - this changes at the end of the month when it is already clearly visible in the constellation of Taurus shortly before four o'clock.
In the early morning hours of 18 and 19 June, reach for your binoculars: the narrow Venusian crescent can be seen right next to the already very thin crescent of the moon. You will be rewarded with a truly beautiful sight.
Full moon in the penumbra of the earth
We promised one more highlight at the beginning. Already this week, on Friday, June 5, there will be a penumbral lunar eclipse. It begins in the evening at 19:46 o'clock and reaches its strongest eclipse at 21:26 o'clock. At this time slightly more than the lower half of the full moon is in the penumbra of the earth. But don't be too disappointed: the moon will not become really dark, it will rather give the impression of a grey haze over the Earth's satellite. In addition, the sky is still quite bright at this time of day - but with binoculars you might be lucky and watch the spectacle on a cloudless day.
Hardly any chance of shooting stars
June has a lot to offer, but is not a good month for shooting stars. There are several meteor streams, but they usually let their abundant shooting stars rain during daylight. The nocturnal meteor streams, on the other hand, only send a few shooting stars. If you are lucky, you will be able to observe the maximum of the June bootids in the night from 27 to 28 June. These, however, are a real wonder bag: in some years they hardly send meteors, then again 50 to 100 per hour.