Whether you’re out all night looking for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) or planning an early start to catch the solstice sunrise on the morning of 21 June, don’t forget to keep a lookout for the bright planet Venus this month.

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Venus is a morning object in June 2022. Located within Taurus, the Bull, the planet rises 80 minutes before the Sun at the start of June, increasing to 100 minutes by the month’s end.

It remains a fraction below mag. –4.0 during June and, despite a low morning altitude, this brightness should help you to see it given clear skies.

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Keep a lookout for Venus in the morning throughout June 2022. Credit: Pete Lawrence
Keep a lookout for Venus in the morning throughout June 2022. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Through a telescope Venus appears gibbous and is decreasing in apparent size as it moves along a portion of its orbit on the far side of the Sun as seen from Earth.

In the sky, the planet is slipping closer to the Sun’s position in the sky.

A slender 7%-lit waning crescent Moon sits close to the bright planet on the morning of 26 June and this should be an attractive sight, as long as you have a flat east-northeast horizon.

Venus is joined by Mercury on 15 June. Credit: Pete Lawrence
Venus is joined by Mercury on 15 June. Credit: Pete Lawrence

The Moon will appear 2.2˚ above Venus as seen from the UK on this date and should be exhibiting the phenomenon known as earthshine, where the dark portion can be seen glowing gently against the lit crescent.

On 30 June, Aldebaran (Alpha (α) Tauri) is located below Venus, marking the right angle in a right-angle triangle with mag. –0.6 Mercury further to the left.

Venus is joined by Mercury and Aldebaran on 30 June. Credit: Pete Lawrence
Venus is joined by Mercury and Aldebaran on 30 June. Credit: Pete Lawrence

Both Mercury and Aldebaran will be low and difficult to locate, but Venus will be a good guide if you want to try.

How to see the planets, June 2022

The phase and relative sizes of the planets this month. Each planet is shown with south at the top, to show its orientation through a telescope
The phase and relative sizes of the planets this month. Each planet is shown with south at the top, to show its orientation through a telescope

Venus

  • Best time to see: 30 June, 30 minutes before sunrise
  • Altitude: 10˚
  • Location: Taurus
  • Direction: East-northeast
  • Features: Phase, subtle markings on the planet’s disc
  • Recommended equipment: 75mm, or larger

Mercury

Best time to see: 30 June, 30 minutes before sunrise

Altitude: 4˚ (very low)

Location: Taurus

Direction: Northeast

A morning planet, dim at the month’s start and not well placed. It reaches greatest western elongation on 16 June when it shines at mag. +0.7 and rises 50 minutes before the Sun. On 27 June a thin 3%-lit waning crescent Moon sits north of the mag. –0.3 planet.

Mercury rises above the northeast horizon just over an hour before the Sun on this date, chasing mag. –3.8 Venus over the sky. The best view will be on 30 June when Mercury shines at mag. –0.6 and rises 70 minutes before the Sun.

Mars

  • Best time to see: 30 June, 03:00 UT
  • Altitude: 22˚
  • Location: Pisces
  • Direction: East-southeast

Mars is a morning planet, improving in appearance over June. On 1 June it rises two hours before the Sun and shines at mag. +0.7. Through an eyepiece it shows a gibbous phase, 6 arcseconds across on 1 June.

At the month’s start, Mars appears close to mag. –2.1 Jupiter, the planets appearing 1.7˚ apart on the 1 June. The waning crescent Moon passes close to Mars on the mornings of 22 and 23 June. By the month’s end, it will have brightened to mag. +0.5 with an apparent disc size of 7 arcseconds across.

Jupiter

  • Best time to see: 30 June, 03:00 UT
  • Altitude: 26˚
  • Location: Cetus
  • Direction: Southeast

Jupiter is a mag. –2.1 morning planet this month. On 1 June it appears close to mag. +0.7 Mars, the pair separated by 1.7˚. The last quarter Moon sits near Jupiter on 21 June and again as a waning crescent on 22 June.

Although Jupiter can be seen against dark twilight by the end of the month, it is unable to reach its highest position in the sky before sunrise. Following the solstice, conditions will improve. On 25 June, Jupiter drifts east into Cetus. This is a part of the constellation that sits south of Pisces and east of the Circlet asterism.

Saturn

  • Best time to see: 30 June, 03:00 UT
  • Altitude: 22˚
  • Location: Capricornus
  • Direction: South

Saturn is visible in the morning sky, shining at mag. +0.8 at June’s start, but brightening to mag. +0.7 by its close. An 81%-lit waning gibbous Moon sits near to Saturn on the morning of 18 June. By the month’s end, Saturn manages to reach an altitude of 22˚ as seen from the centre of the UK, before the brightening dawn twilight engulfs it.

Through a scope, the rings are now appearing to narrow. This month, the tilt angle reaches a low for 2022, varying between 12.1˚–12.3˚. This presents Saturn with a ‘classic’ appearance, with its polar regions extending north and south beyond the ring ellipse.

Uranus

The morning planet Uranus is not visible this month.

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Neptune

Neptune is a morning planet, but not viable for observation.

Authors

Pete Lawrence, astronomer and BBC The Sky at Night presenter.
Pete LawrenceAstronomer and presenter

Pete Lawrence is an experienced astronomer and astrophotographer, and a presenter on BBC's The Sky at Night.

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