Look southeast on Saturday (June 18) around 1 a.m. local time and you may be treated to a view of the waning gibbous moon joining Saturn as our satellite begins its monthly trip past the morning planets.
“It will be shining a generous palm’s width to the lower right of the yellowish dot of Saturn,” writes geophysicist Chris Vaughan, an amateur astronomer with SkySafari Software who oversees Space.com’s Night Sky calendar.
The pair will be too far apart to fit into a telescope’s field of view but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars, according to skywatching website InTheSky.org (opens in new tab).
Related: The brightest planets in June’s night sky: How & when to see them
During the early hours of Saturday morning, the pair will be joined by a procession of bright early risers as Jupiter and Mars assemble to their left (celestial east). Mercury and Venus will join the party shortly before sunrise.
The exact time of the event varies depending on your specific location, so you’ll want to check out a skywatching app like SkySafari or software like Starry Night to confirm the best local time to look up. Our picks for the best stargazing apps may help you with your planning.
Skywatchers this month are being treated to a rare “planet parade” as all five naked-eye planets line up across the predawn sky in their orbital order from the sun. From left to right in the southeastern sky, you’ll be able to spot Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn all in a row. (Mercury will be quite close to the horizon at the start of the month but becomes easier to spot as the month matures.)
The best opportunity to see this spectacle may come on June 24, as Mercury should rise about an hour before the sun, according to a press release (opens in new tab) from Sky&Telescope.
Throughout June, the moon will continue to journey past the morning planets, embarking on a planetary “meet and greet.” After passing close to Saturn on June 18, the moon will continue to Jupiter on June 21, Mars on June 22 and Venus on June 26. It will wrap up its tour on June 27, when the crescent moon slithers past Mercury.
Hoping to snap a good photo of the moon as it passes through the planetary parade? Our guide on how to photograph the moon has some helpful tips. If you’re looking for a camera, here’s our overview of the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography. As always, our guides for the best telescopes and best binoculars can help you prepare for the next great skywatching event.
Editor’s Note: If you capture a great photo of the moon during its travels and would like to share it with Space.com’s readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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