SKY GUIDE: This map represents the night sky as it appears over Maine during June. The stars are shown as they appear at 10:30 p.m. early in the month, at 9:30 p.m. at midmonth, and at 8:30 p.m. at month’s end. Sadly this month no planets will be visible in the evening sky. To use the map, hold it vertically and turn it so that the direction you are facing is at the bottom. Sky Chart prepared by Seth Lockman

The month of June is named for Juno, the Roman goddess who was the wife of Zeus and the queen of the gods. According to myth, Juno has the power to see through a veil of clouds that Zeus put up, so our latest mission to Jupiter was named Juno, since it does much the same thing for us today, just using scientific instruments and not magical powers.

June always marks the beginning of summer for us in the northern hemisphere. This year, that will happen at exactly 4:51 p.m. on June 20. The word solstice means “sun stands still.” It always marks the longest day and the shortest night of the year as the sun reaches its highest point in our sky. That is about 68 degrees high in Gemini for us here at this latitude of about 43 degrees north.

Our landscape on Earth is lush and green again and the stars above have rotated into their summer positions as Scorpius and Sagittarius are visible again low in the southeastern sky, along with the center of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, located a mere 30,000 light years beyond this area of our sky just below Scorpius and Sagittarius. The nights are getting warmer but also shorter.

The Summer Triangle has reclaimed its place soon after dark, nicely framing this arm of the Milky Way galaxy seemingly rising out of the teapot in Sagittarius like steam. This part of our galaxy is far more substantial than steam; it is composed of 100 billion stars all orbiting around the center of our galaxy at nearly 500,000 miles per hour, along with our own sun and its family of planets. The sky and everything in it is not nearly as static as it seems.

This fact was recently made much more evident with the best and longest display of the aurora borealis that I have ever seen. A whole series of powerful coronal mass ejections were unleashed from a huge set of sunspots 15 times larger than the earth and large enough to be seen with just your eyes and the solar eclipse glasses you just used on April 8. It was called a cannibal CME, since the geomagnetic storms caught up with each other, creating a much more powerful event, the most powerful since October 2003, which was the last time I saw the northern lights at this latitude.

By the time I got home from a wonderful concert around 11 p.m., the northern lights were already going full blast, shooting towering blue, pink and purple streamers high into the normally quiet sky. Those colors are quite rare, along with how far up into the sky beyond the Big and Little Dippers they were reaching, so I knew this would be a fantastic display of nature’s power and beauty.


Armed with a good camera and a high ISO setting, I set out to record and attempt to capture this rare event, the best one in 21 years, but mostly to really experience it in the moment. They never died down during that whole night, so that moment lasted right up until dawn. They did simmer down a little into the classic auroral arc that was more greenish, but continual bursts of energy rippled along this arc, and at times took over the whole sky with giant pulsating waves of pure energy.

I talked to several people who drove up from Boston just to see this, so I felt very lucky that I was right here and did not have to go anywhere to experience this remarkable display of nature’s power and beauty. The total solar eclipse I had just seen one month and two days earlier only lasted under three minutes, but now I could experience another fairly rare show of nature’s subtle and awe-inspiring power for over five hours.

Now, all of the planetary action has shifted to the morning sky. This month opens with six of our eight planets all nicely lined up in the eastern morning sky. They start with Mercury and Jupiter very close together in Taurus, then Uranus and a very thin waning crescent moon in Aries, then Mars in Pisces and the great line-up ends with Neptune and Saturn in Aquarius. The only one missing is Venus, which will not reappear again until next month in the evening sky.

All seven of our other planets were lined up in the morning sky in June a couple of years ago, with the five brightest lined up in order from Mercury out to Saturn. That was extremely rare and will not happen again until May 6, 2492.

Saturn will be the first to rise at 2 a.m. in Aquarius. It shines at first magnitude now and is getting a little brighter all the time as we catch up with it. Orange Mars is next in Pisces, rising around 3:30 a.m. and also shining at exactly first magnitude now and getting a little brighter over time as we catch up with the red planet. Compare their colors and brightness.

Mercury and Jupiter rise in Taurus just 20 minutes before sunrise. Then Mercury sinks lower and will turn into the only evening planet this month a few weeks later. Jupiter will slowly get higher and brighter in our sky, but it will not reach opposition until Dec. 7. The king of the planets is now exactly three magnitudes or about 15 times brighter than Saturn and Mars. Every five magnitudes equals 100 times brighter, so each magnitude is the fifth root of 100, or about 2.5 times.


There are no good meteor showers until July, but there are three comets visible with a small telescope this month. They are eighth magnitude Comet 13P/Olbers in Auriga and Lynx setting right after sunset, ninth magnitude Comet C/2023 A3 (Tsuchinshan-ATLAS) in Virgo and 10th magnitude Comet C/2021 S3 (PanSTARRS) in Cepheus the King.


June 2: The moon passes 2 degrees north of Mars this morning.

June 3: Hale’s 200-inch telescope was dedicated in 1948 on Mt. Palomar.

June 4: In 2000, the Compton Gamma Ray observatory was allowed to reenter our atmosphere after nearly 10 years of our high-energy universe. Mercury passed 0.1 degrees south of Jupiter this morning.

June 5: In 1989, Voyager 2 made its closest approach to Neptune, and they broadcast the exciting new images live in “Neptune all night”. The last transit of Venus occurred in 2012. The next one will be in 2117.


June 6: New moon is at 8:38 a.m.

June 13: Pioneer 10 left our solar system in 1983, and the Japanese Hayabusa spacecraft returned the first asteroid samples to Earth in 2010.

June 14: First quarter moon is at 1:18 a.m.

June 16: In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space and is still the only woman to make a solo space flight.

June 20: The summer solstice is at 5:51 p.m.

June 21: Full moon is at 9:08 p.m., very close to the solstice, which is rare. This is also known as the Strawberry or Rose moon.


June 26: Charles Messier was born in 1730.

June 27: The moon passes 0.1 degrees north of Saturn this morning.

June 28: Last quarter moon is at 5:53 p.m.

June 29: George Ellery Hale was born in 1868. He designed and built the four largest telescopes in the world, from the 40-inch refractor in Yerkes in 1898 right up to the 200-inch Mt. Palomar telescope.

Bernie Reim of Wells is co-director of the Astronomical Society of Northern New England.

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