Friday, June 6
Look left of the Moon this evening for Mars, then Spica, as shown at right.
With June under way, the Big Dipper is swinging around after dark to hang down by its handle high in the northwest. The middle star of its handle is Mizar, with tiny little Alcor right next to it. On which side of Mizar should you look for Alcor? As always, on the side toward Vega! Which is now shining in the east-northeast.
Saturday, June 7
The waxing gibbous Moon shines near Mars this evening. Look just above Mars for fainter Gamma (γ) Virginis (Porrima). Spica shines farther to their their left, as shown here.
Sunday, June 8
Now the gibbous Moon pairs up with Spica.
Monday, June 9
The Moon is part of a four-object lineup tonight: with Saturn to its left and Spica and Mars to its right.
With summer not far off, can you still catch Procyon very low in the twilight? You may need binoculars. It's 17° lower left of Jupiter. For how many more days can you follow it? The first day that a star becomes completely invisible in the afterglow of sunset is called its heliacal setting.
Tuesday, June 10
Now the waxing gibbous Moon is lower left of Saturn at nightfall. Look farther to the Moon's lower left for Antares and the other stars of upper Scorpius, as shown here.
For southernmost Africa, the Moon occults (covers) Saturn around 19 hours Universal Time.
Wednesday, June 11
Now it's Antares's turn to shine near the Moon. As evening grows late, it swings straight below the Moon (for North America).
Thursday, June 12
Full Moon (exact at 12:11 a.m. June 13th EDT). The Moon shines in the dim legs of the constellation Ophiuchus. Look for Antares well to its right.
Friday, June 13
Vega is the brightest star shining in the east after dusk. It's currently the top star of the big Summer Triangle. The brightest star to Vega's lower left is Deneb. Look farther to Vega's lower right for Altair. The Summer Triangle will climb higher in early evening all through the summer, to pose highest overhead at dusk when fall begins.
Saturday, June 14
Mars and Spica arrest your eye in the southwest just after dark this week. Spot brighter Arcturus high above them. Half as far below them is the four-star pattern of Corvus, the Crow.
Want to become a better astronomer? Learn your way around the constellations. They're the key to locating everything fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.
This is an outdoor nature hobby. 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 once you know your way around, 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.
Can a computerized telescope replace charts? Not for beginners, I don't think, and not on mounts and tripods that are less than top-quality mechanically (able to point with better than 0.2° repeatability, which means fairly heavy and expensive). As Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer say in their Backyard Astronomer's Guide, "A full appreciation of the universe cannot come without developing the skills to find things in the sky and understanding how the sky works. This knowledge comes only by spending time under the stars with star maps in hand."
This Week's Planet RoundupMercury is lost in the glow of sunset.
Venus (magnitude –3.9) remains quite low in the east during dawn.
Mars (magnitude –0.4, in Virgo) shines high in the south-southwest in late twilight. Upper right of it by about 3° is 3rd-magnitude Gamma Virginis (Porrima). About four times farther to Mars's lower left sparkles Spica. Mars sets in the west around 2 a.m. daylight saving time.
In a telescope, Mars's gibbous disk is 11 arcseconds tall and shrinking. See the Mars map and observing guide in the March Sky & Telescope, page 50. Use our Mars Profiler to find which side of the planet will be facing Earth when you plan to look.
Jupiter (magnitude –1.9, in Gemini) shines low in the west-northwest in twilight and sets around nightfall. Look for Pollux and Castor to its upper right.
Saturn (magnitude +0.2, in Libra) glows in the southeast to south during evening. The wide binocular double star Alpha Librae glimmers 3° or 4° to Saturn's lower right. They fit well within a typical binocular's field of view.
Look for Antares and the head of Scorpius well to Saturn's lower left.
It a telescope Saturn's globe is 18 arcseconds wide, and its rings are tilted 22° from our line of sight. Use our SaturnMoons app to find and identify Saturn's various satellites at any time and date. A 6-inch scope will show four or five of them: Titan, Rhea, Dione, Tethys, and Iapetus.
Uranus, in Pisces, is low in the east just before dawn begins.
Neptune, in Aquarius, is up in the southeast before the first light of dawn. Use our finder charts for Uranus and Neptune in 2014.
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) is Universal Time (UT, UTC, or GMT) minus 4 hours.