Stargazing in Fluvanna: June

By Pat Beers Block

Welcome to this month’s highlights of enjoyable astronomical events that will happen in the evening and morning skies above!

This month there are a significant number of planetary, and planet/star conjunction alignments that will keep us captivated with sky viewing.   There is a six planet alignment that will occur early in June, followed by a good number of moon and star conjunctions that should be visible throughout the remainder of the month.  Meteor showers will also be prevalent albeit they will probably not light up the sky to any great degree because they are considered weak (Class IV) meteor showers that produce very few meteor events.  And let’s not forget a truly fun day to celebrate this month- the summer solstice that will occur on June 20.  This single day of the year offers us a day to enjoy the most daylight in the northern hemisphere.  

Given the stature of moon and star conjunctions this month, let’s briefly explore these alliances, and the terminology used to describe these events.  In astronomy, the word conjunction signifies the appearance of astronomical objects as close to one another in the sky, as observed from Earth.  These objects are not physically close to one another, but from the viewer’s perspective they appear close.   Conjunctions can include two objects in the Solar System or a combination of a Solar System object and a remote object like a star.  For example, this month the moon and the star Pollux are in conjunction; they appear close to one another in the night sky.  You might also see the term “inferior” or “superior” conjunctions.   These terms refer to the object’s relationship with the Sun and Earth.  Inferior planets include Venus and Mercury; they are inside of the Earth’s orbit.  When these planets are on the same side of the Sun as Earth, their conjunctions are labeled inferior conjunctions.  When these planets are on the opposite side of the Sun, they are labeled superior conjunctions (Wikipedia).  There is more information about conjunctions that you can explore on websites referenced below.   

Okay, let’s get ready for this month’s celestial excitement by getting your star gazing equipment ready, your cell phones fully charged and linked to Sky Guide, Sky View Lite, or any other star gazing applications that you find useful, and you relaxing comfortably in your favorite viewing spot to witness the magic of the night and early morning skies!   

Some fun events that will happen in June 2024 include the following events [extracted from Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events 2024 – Sea and Sky (;   American Meteor Society (; NASA’s SKYCAL (;  and Wikipedia].

Week 1 (June 1-8)

On June 2, the moon will lie in the perigee position, a spacial position where the moon is the closest to Earth.  The lunar perigee position has the greatest tidal force on Earth’s tidal waters.  

Also on this date, it will be possible to see the moon and Mars conjunction (they appear near one another), given the moon’s diminished light as it moves into its new moon phase.

An exciting event will occur on June 3, when six planets in our solar system align int the sky such that you can see all six at the same time.  The plants that appear to be in line include Jupiter, Mercury, Uranus, Mars, Neptune, and Saturn.  You will need binoculars or a telescope to see the distance planets.  

On June 6, the new moon appears, making it an ideal time to view less visible celestial bodies, provided the sky is devoid of clouds.  This is a good time to see, even without binoculars, star clusters, constellations, and nearby planets.    

Weeks 2 (June 9-15)

On June 9, the moon and the star Pollux appear in conjunction in the western sky after sunset.  Recall that Pollux can be found in the Gemini constellation. 

On June 10, with the aid of binoculars and or a telescope, the moon will be in conjunction with the Beehive, a cluster of about one thousand stars positioned in the constellation Cancer the Crab.  

With the moon moving into its first quarter phase on June 14, the moon appears as a half moon, the right half of the moon illuminated by the Sun’s rays.  

Also on June 14, the moon will be in its apogee position, a term that means the moon is farthest from Earth. This is a position that reduces that moon’s tidal force to its lowest strength. 

Worth noting, but unlikely to see this month, is the weak Class IV meteor shower call phi Piscids.  This meteor shower begins on June 13 and continues through July 5.  The weak meteor Class IV designation translates to fewer than two meteors/hour could be visible in a very dark sky.  The challenge this week with this shower is that the moon in its first quarter phase will overshadow any meteors that might appear.   

Week 3 (June 16-22)

The conjunction of the moon and the star Spica, of the constellation Virgo, occurs on June 16.  

On June 20, the conjunction of the moon and the star Antares, of the constellation Scorpius, will be visible.  

The highlight of the week, and perhaps the month of June, is the appearance of the summer solstice on June 20.  On this day, with the North Pole tilting at its maximum degree towards the Sun, sunshine will last longer on the northern hemisphere and give us a long day for summertime fun and activities!

The finale this week is the moon moving into its full moon phase on June 21.  The evening sky, provided the sky is devoid of clouds or precipitation, will be delightfully illuminated with the entire moon face visible, and smiling at us with its always friendly and welcoming face.

Week 4 (June 23–30)

Weak Class IV meteor showers might be visible if the night sky is very dark.  Although mentioned here, it is unfortunately very unlikely that you will see these meteors showers because the full moon phase is still dominant in the sky, and these showers are not very productive with fewer than two meteors/hour.  

Meteor showers from June 25 and June 26 include June Iota Pegasids, Microscopids, July chi Arietids, and Northern June Aquilids.  Also, the meteor shower that started on June 13, the phi Piscids, will be active at this time.  

On June 27, the moon again moves into its perigee position (closest to Earth) when its tidal force on Earth with be at its greatest strength. 

The final event on June 28 is the appearance of the last lunar quarter when the left side of the moon is illuminated by the Sun’s rays.     

Objects to See Throughout the Month of June

Three bodies that you will see that are considered the brightest objects in our Solar System include, in descending order, the Sun, the moon, and Venus. 

There are several constellations that will be visible this month that may be fun to observe and track.  The following constellations can be observed throughout the month of June.  

The Constellation Virgo (the Maiden) is represented as a stick figure (graphically as woman with wings holding shafts of wheat) with seven major stars.  The brightest star is Spica, located at the bottom of the constellation.    

Gemini (the Twins) will be visible, with the brightest star being Pollux, one of the twins, in conjunction with the moon.  

Cancer (the Crab), will be visible and of interest this month as you search for the conjunction of the moon with Beehive. 

Well, those are some of the highlights for the month of June.  Enjoy exploring the sky and hopefully finding the treasures noted above this month.  And keep up your sky viewing; you will become more comfortable with your ability to identify objects and predict where they might be in the morning and night sky.  

Until next month, keep your eyes facing the morning and evening sky to see the wonders of our universe as we Earthlings travel through it! 

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