Slideshow of June 2020’s morning planets
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Click here for our detailed notes about the planets in June 2020.
The moon moves past the bright morning planets – Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars – during the pre-dawn hours of June.
On June 8, one hour before sunrise, the bright moon, 16.6 days past the new and 92% illuminated, is 5.8° to the lower right of bright Jupiter. The Jupiter – Saturn gap is 5.0°. Both planets are retrograding and Jupiter moves farther away from Saturn in the sky. This retrograde motion occurs when our faster moving Earth overtakes the two planets and moves between them and the sun, called opposition. Jupiter’s opposition is on July 14, while Saturn’s follows six days later.
The next morning (June 9), the moon is 17.6 days past the New phase and 85% illuminated. Jupiter and Saturn are about one-third of the way up in the south, slightly west of the south mark. The bright moon is 4.8° to the lower left of Saturn. This is about the same separation as Jupiter and Saturn. Farther east, Mars is now higher in the sky than Jupiter and Saturn. Mars is about one-third of the way up in the sky from the horizon to overhead (zenith).
On June 13, the Last Quarter moon, 21.6 days past the New phase, is 4.9° to the lower left of Mars. The Red Planet is about one-third of the way up in the southeast. For those who want a challenge, use a binocular to find Neptune 1.6° above Mars. The planet is dim and slightly blue-green. Farther west, bright Jupiter – nearly one-third of the way up in the south – is 5.2° to the lower right of Saturn. Both planets continue to retrograde as the gap between the two bright giants opens slowly.
Brilliant Venus pops into the morning sky after mid-month. About 45 minutes before sunrise, the crescent moon is 1.0° to the lower left of Venus. Find a clear horizon in the east-northeast.
On June 19, the crescent moon is 1.0° to the lower left of brilliant Venus. Find a clear horizon to the east-northeast about 45 minutes before sunrise. This is the closest grouping of Venus and the moon in the morning sky during 2020.
As the month heads towards it close, four bright planets are in the morning sky – Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter. One hour before sunrise, brilliant Venus is very low in the east-northeast. It is 4.9° to the upper right of the star Aldebaran. A binocular may be needed to see the star. The Pleiades star cluster gleams above it. Farther west, Mars is over one-third of the way up in the southeast. Bright Jupiter is about 20% of the way up in the sky in the south-southwest. Dimmer Saturn is 5.8° to the upper left of Saturn. Next month, Mercury joins the morning planet parade for an infrequent opportunity to see the five naked eye planets simultaneously. Much dimmer Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are in the morning sky as well.