Friday, June 21
Saturday, June 22
Sunday, June 23
Arcturus and Vega are 37 and 25 light-years away, respectively, and represent the two commonest types of naked-eye stars: a yellow-orange K giant and a white A main-sequence star. They're 150 and 50 times brighter than the Sun — which, combined with their nearness, is why they dominate the evening sky.
Monday, June 24
Tuesday, June 25
Wednesday, June 26
Thursday, June 27
Friday, June 28
Saturday, June 29
Want to become a better amateur astronomer? Learn your way around the constellations. They're the key to locating everything fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.
For an easy-to-use constellation guide covering the whole evening sky, use the big monthly map in the center of each issue of Sky & Telescope, the essential guide to astronomy. Or download our free Getting Started in Astronomy booklet (which only has bimonthly maps).
Once you get a telescope, to put it to good use you'll need a detailed, large-scale sky atlas (set of charts). The standards are the little Pocket Sky Atlas, which shows stars to magnitude 7.6; the larger and deeper Sky Atlas 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 8.5); and the even larger Uranometria 2000.0 (stars to magnitude 9.75). And read how to use sky charts with a telescope.
You'll also want a good deep-sky guidebook, such as Sue French's Deep-Sky Wonders collection (which includes its own charts), Sky Atlas 2000.0 Companion by Strong and Sinnott, the bigger Night Sky Observer's Guide by Kepple and Sanner, or the beloved if dated Burnham's Celestial Handbook.
This Week's Planet Roundup
Mercury is becoming a real challenge, rapidly fading and dropping below Venus very low in bright twilight. Bring binoculars. What's the last day you can keep it in view?
Venus (magnitude –3.8) is gaining altitude very gradually, low in the west-northwest in evening twilight. Use binoculars to pick up Pollux and Castor off to its upper right or right.
Mars and Jupiter remain hidden in the glare of the Sun.
Saturn (magnitude +0.5, in Libra) glows in the south to southwest during evening, with slightly dimmer Spica 12° to its lower right after dark. Look about equally far to Saturn's left for Alpha Librae.
See our telescopic guide "Scrutinizing Saturn" in the May Sky & Telescope, page 50, or the shorter version on our website. And identify Saturn's many moons at any time and date with our SaturnMoons utility or handier app.
Uranus (magnitude 5.9 in Pisces) is in the east, and Neptune (magnitude 7.9 in Aquarius) is higher in the southeast, before the beginning of dawn. Finder charts for Uranus and Neptune.
All descriptions that relate to your horizon including the words up, down, right, and left are written for the world's mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that also depend on longitude (mainly Moon positions) are for North America. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) equals Universal Time (also known as UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 4 hours.
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