Monthly Skywatchers' Page

For London and the UK

Sun And Nine Planets
The Sun and eight major planets (plus KBO Pluto) to scale. Earth is third planet from the left.


Introduction

The location of the stars and constellations can be learnt throughout a single year from books, mobile phone applications or planetarium software. Each month of the year, the same stars are visible from a given location. Different stars and constellations are visible as the year progresses. For example, in London, the constellation of Orion is always visible in the evenings of winter months of January and February. Scorpius is visible in the summer months of June and July around midnight.

The planets resemble stars except that, generally, they do not twinkle. Unlike the stars whose patterns are fixed, planets wander through the sky changing their positions amongst the starry background. This means that their periods of visibility change as the relative position of the Earth, Sun and planet vary. In one year Mars may be visible in August at midnight. In another year it may be behind the Sun and invisible from Earth during August.

This page gives the details of visibility for the five naked eye planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. It also gives information about comets, meteor showers and non-regular phenomena like eclipses, transits and occultations.

The Observers' Glossary explains the terms used. Alternatively run the mouse cursor over terms in maroon.


The descriptions below are for viewers in the Northern Hemisphere, especially London and the United Kingdom.
The planetary information is valid for any location at the same or similar Latitude (51.5°N).
Note that a degree in the sky is twice the apparent diameter of the Moon.

All times on this page are London (UK) times. This is normally GMT (Greenwich Mean Time also known as Universal Time).
In the United Kingdom, the clocks go forward by one hour for British Summer Time (BST) between mid March and late October.
A 24 hour clock is used so that 7pm is written 19:00.


June 2018

Mercury

Mercury

Mercury is in superior conjunction on 6th.

The planet may be glimpsed low in the North West in the last few days of the month. On 27th, Mercury will be in line with the setting twin stars, Castor and Pollux.

This is a difficult apparition of the planet due to the long twilights at this time of year.

Mercury and the Twins plus Venus
Looking to the North West at 10:00pm on 27th.
Mercury can be seen to the left of Castor and Pollux.
Venus, far more brilliant, is to the left.

Venus

Venus

Venus is visible in the West as a brilliant evening object, ten times brighter than the brightest star. The planet sets more than two hours after the Sun during June.

The planet begins the month below the twin stars of Gemini and will line up with them on 10th.

Venus passes into Cancer on 12th. The crescent Moon will be close to Venus on 16th.

On 19th and 20th, the planet will pass close to the Praesepe (Beehive) star cluster - a pair of binoculars would be useful to see this.

Venus passes into Leo on 29th.

The planet gets brighter this month but is now getting past its best for Northern Hemisphere observers.

Venus and the Moon
Looking to the North of West at 10:30pm on 16th.
The brilliant Venus can be seen next to the crescent Moon and the twin stars, Castor and Pollux.

Mars

Mars

Mars now rises before midnight among the stars of Capricornus. The planet rises in the South East and does not climb very high in the sky but is now becoming very bright.

Mars begins the month as bright as Sirius, the brightest star. By the end of the month the planet will be rivalling Jupiter in brilliance. Its red colour will be very noticeable to the naked eye.

Mars can be seen just below the Moon on 3rd.

On 28th the motion of Mars against the background stars comes to a stop as the faster moving Earth begins to overtake the red planet. After that date, the planet appears to move "backwards" (retrograde motion).

Jupiter

Jupiter

Jupiter is a bright evening object setting well after midnight among the stars of Libra.

The planet is close to the Moon on 23rd.

Through a small telescope, the planet's four large moons can easily be seen. They resemble little stars, changing positions from night to night.

Saturn

Saturn

Saturn is at opposition on 27th among the stars of Sagittarius.

At opposition, an outer planet is visible all night long, rising at sunset and setting at sunrise. It is now at its closest to the Earth.

Look for the yellow star-like planet on the 27th when it will be below the Full Moon.

During 2018, Saturn will be low in the sky as it is now at its furthest south in its 30 year cycle.

Through a telescope the magnificent rings are easy to see and this year they are at an open angle. If you have access to a telescope, use the Moon to locate Saturn and look at it through a telescope on a clear night. The sight of the rings is one of the best views in the sky. During 2018, we are looking down onto the planet's North Pole so the rings appear to be wide open. The rings are open wide every fifteen years.

Sun

The Sun

Since December the Sun has been moving northwards and the days have been getting longer.

On 21st June at 11:07, the Sun reaches its furthest point North. This marks the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere). On this day the sun rises at its furthest north, reaches its highest altitude at noon (just after 13:00 as we put the clocks forward in March), and sets at its furthest north. The longest day will be just over 16 hours 38 minutes (in London) as compared to 7 hours 49 minutes in late December.

As seen from space the Earth's North Pole is tilted at its maximum to the Sun.

At the beginning of June, local noon will occur at 12:58 but this moves forward throughout the month and June will end with midday occurring at 13:04. Remember the clocks went forward last March so midday is around 13:00. Midday will be at exactly 13:00 around the 13th and this only happens four times a year. When this happens, sundial time is identical to clock time.

The moving forward of the time of midday has the effect of shunting the daylight from the morning into the afternoon by a small amount. An interesting effect results from this movement. In June 2018 the longest day is on 21st. However, the earliest sunrise (04:42) occurs four or five days earlier around 17th. Conversely, the latest sunset (21:21) occurs on 26th, a few days after the longest day.

The Sun begins the month in Taurus and enters Gemini on 21st.

Note that the Zodiac dates do not tie in with astrology as astrologers are using dates from two thousand years ago.

Date Sunrise Midday Sunset Length of Day Sun's Noon Altitude Notes
30-May
04:50
12:58
21:05
16h 15m
60.3°
 
31-May
04:50
12:58
21:07
16h 17m
60.4°
 
01-Jun
04:49
12:58
21:08
16h 18m
60.6°
 
02-Jun
04:48
12:58
21:09
16h 20m
60.7°
 
03-Jun
04:47
12:58
21:10
16h 22m
60.8°
Moon close to Mars
04-Jun
04:46
12:58
21:11
16h 24m
61.0°
 
05-Jun
04:46
12:58
21:12
16h 25m
61.1°
 
06-Jun
04:45
12:59
21:13
16h 27m
61.2°
Morning Half Moon
07-Jun
04:45
12:59
21:13
16h 28m
61.3°
 
08-Jun
04:44
12:59
21:14
16h 30m
61.4°
 
09-Jun
04:44
12:59
21:15
16h 31m
61.4°
 
10-Jun
04:43
12:59
21:16
16h 32m
61.5°
 
11-Jun
04:43
13:00
21:17
16h 33m
61.6°
 
12-Jun
04:43
13:00
21:17
16h 34m
61.7°
 
13-Jun
04:43
13:00
21:18
16h 35m
61.7°
New Moon at 19:43 - Midday at 13:00
14-Jun
04:42
13:00
21:18
16h 35m
61.8°
 
15-Jun
04:42
13:00
21:19
16h 36m
61.8°
 
16-Jun
04:42
13:01
21:19
16h 37m
61.9°
Moon close to Venus
17-Jun
04:42
13:01
21:20
16h 37m
61.9°
Earliest sunrise
18-Jun
04:42
13:01
21:20
16h 37m
61.9°
 
19-Jun
04:42
13:01
21:20
16h 38m 08s
61.9°
 
20-Jun
04:42
13:02
21:21
16h 38m 17s
61.9°
Evening Half Moon
21-Jun
04:43
13:02
21:21
16h 38m 19s
61.9°
Solstice at 11:07 - Longest day
22-Jun
04:43
13:02
21:21
16h 38m 16s
61.9°
 
23-Jun
04:43
13:02
21:21
16h 38m 06s
61.9°
Moon close to Jupiter
24-Jun
04:43
13:02
21:21
16h 37m
61.9°
 
25-Jun
04:44
13:03
21:21
16h 37m
61.9°
 
26-Jun
04:44
13:03
21:21
16h 37m
61.8°
Latest sunset
27-Jun
04:45
13:03
21:21
16h 36m
61.8°
Saturn at Opposition - Moon close to Saturn
28-Jun
04:45
13:03
21:21
16h 35m
61.8°
Full Moon at 04:53 (Sagittarius)
29-Jun
04:46
13:03
21:21
16h 35m
61.7°
 
30-Jun
04:46
13:04
21:21
16h 34m
61.7°
 

Moon

The Moon

The Moon will be close to Mars on 3rd.

The Moon will be close to Venus on 16th.

The Moon will be close to Jupiter on 23rd.

The Moon will be close to Saturn on 27th.


It is easy to depend on astronomy or CMMS software to perform daily computational activities and to keep track of data. Astronomy enthusiasts can choose from a wide variety of software options, while facility managers may have fewer options if they require CMMS software for their business.


Next Month

Mars visible all night long. Saturn, Jupiter and Venus in the evening. Total lunar eclipse. Aphelion.


All times on this page are London (UK) times.

Sources: Astronomy Now magazine, Cybersky, Starry Night Pro, USA Naval Observatory and UK Nautical Almanac Office.

© 2018 KryssTal
All sky images by Starry Night Pro Plus 6
Eclipse predictions (maps) courtesy of Fred Espenak, NASA's GSFC


Books From Amazon.co.uk


Observers' Glossary

An explanation of the terms used by sky observers. Includes descriptions of how the objects of the solar system behave in the sky as seen from Earth (especially the Northern Hemisphere high latitudes).


KryssTal Related Pages

Tables and data about the Sun, Earth, Moon, planets, asteroids and comets. All terms used are explained.

An account of how various properties of stars can be measured by studying starlight. Includes brightness, distance, luminosity, temperature, mass, radius, density and an introduction to the H-R Diagram.

A table containing a list of the 20 brightest stars in the Earth's sky. Explanations of all the associated terms like magnitude, spectral type and radial velocity.

A detailed account about eclipses, transits and occultations. These are irregular phenomena that can be observed in the sky. Includes eclipse trips around the world with photos and well as photos of recent transists of Mercury and Venus.

An easy-to-understand scaling of the Universe in space. Distances in space are represented by the time light takes to travel there.

An easy-to-understand scaling of the Universe in time. The chronology of the Universe is compared to a real year.

How humanity came from believing Creation Myths to postulating the Inflationary Big Bang Theory. The key stages in our understanding of our place in the cosmos and the people who broadened our understanding.

What do we mean by the words day, week, month, year? Who invented our calendar? When did the third millennium begin? The relation between time and astronomy.

The force that moves apples and planets. A short introduction to the ideas of Kepler and Newton that culminated with the theory of Universal Gravitation.

A look at the mathematics of a sphere with a section on sundials and the equation of time.


External Skywatching Links

These links will open in a separate window

StarDate Online
An excellent online skywatchers' magazine featuring detailed monthly information about astronomical events.

Astronomy Picture of the Day
A different image each day with an extensive archive and explanations.

Society for Popular Astronomy
Monthly planet and star gazing details with maps for young people.

Telescope House
A London based source of astronomical equipment, telescopes, software, maps and books.

Southern Sky Watch
Sky watchers information for the southern hemisphere.

Starry Night Pro
Superb planetarium software. Simulate the sky from anywhere on the Earth and any time.