June Skies – by Dick Cookman

Highlights:  Comet Journal, Martian Landers, Meteor Showers, Summer Solstice, Planet Plotting, June Moon 

Focus Constellations: Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Camelopardalis, Lynx, Leo Minor, Leo, Coma Berenices, Canes Venatici, Bootes, Corona Borealis, Hercules, Lyra

  • Comet Journals

C/2017 K2 (PanSTARRS) is at 8th magnitude in Ophiuchus. It will be closest to Earth on July 14, 2022, and will reach perihelion on December 19, 2022. It is a huge comet, possibly reaching naked eye visibility near perihelion or even rivaling 1997’s Hale-Bopp.

45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova (2022) is at 8th magnitude in Gemini and Cancer in June. It passed through perihelion on April 26 and was closest to Earth on May 11.

  • Mars Landers

The Perseverance rover is at the foot of a delta on the edge of Jezero Crater. It is adjacent to Hawksbill Gap which provides access to a gently sloping ramp which the rover is preparing to attempt to ascend to reach the top of the delta. The delta lies at the mouth of an ancient river valley. The valley leads uphill to a network of valleys which evidently drained a vast watershed, bringing sand, silt, and possibly organic debris to be deposited in the delta at the edge of a huge lake which filled the crater billions of years ago when Mars was warmer and wetter. 

“The little red rover is covered with dust, but sturdy and staunch it stands… On April 24, 2022, on day 1211 of its mission, the Insight rover took what mission scientists believe is a final selfie. They retracted the robotic arm to its “retirement pose” in May due to the lack of energy available from the dust covered solar panels. 

The Curiosity Rover has been traversing highly dissected elevated terrain beyond the upper boundary of the Greenheugh Pediment. It is working its way around numerous buttes as it approaches Gediz Vallis, a deep valley which cuts into the elevated rock layer and may provide safe passage for further ascent of Mt. Sharp.

  • Meteor Showers

Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3, discovered in 1930, has a 5.33 year orbit. Each of the subsequent passages close to the Sun has broken the comet into 1000’s of fragments including dozens of chunks followed by a stream of debris which normally produces the minor Tau Herculid shower on June 9. Earth passed through the fragments in the hours after midnight on the 31st. The meteor shower emanating out of Bootes briefly produced 30 – 40 meteors per hour and did not produce the desired storm of 1000 meteors per hour in the moonless western sky . 

June 15: June Lyrids. Active June 11 – 22, Radiant 18h32m 35°, ZHR variable, 31km/sec. Waning Gibbous Moon. Progenitor: Unknown. 

June 27: June Bootids. Active June 22 – July 2, Radiant 14h56m 48°, ZHR variable, 18km/sec. Waning Crescent Moon. Progenitor: Comet 7P/Pons-Winnecke.

  • Summer Solstice

On the 21st, at 5:14AM EDT, Earth will be positioned in its orbit so that the north pole leans precisely toward the Sun, lighting up the northern hemisphere and providing the longest day and shortest night for northerners. 

    • Planet Plottings 

The pre-dawn sky in June provides early risers with a planet plethora. Mercury (+2.7 to -0.6) in Taurus, Uranus (+5.9 to +5.8) in Aries, Venus (-3.9 to -3.8) in Aries and Taurus, Mars (+0.7 to +0.5) in Pisces, Jupiter (-2.1 to -2.3) in Pisces and Cetus, Neptune (+7.9) in Pisces, and Saturn (+.07 to +0.6) in Capricornus are arrayed in order before dawn above the eastern to the southern horizon. Mercury is closest to the eastern horizon and brightens as it approaches maximum western elongation from the Sun on the 16th, after which it drops in the glow of sunrise. In early June, Uranus is slightly south and above Mercury and Venus is next. Venus appears to drop below Uranus on the 11th, then follows Mercury into the sunrise in late June. Mars and Jupiter are in close proximity in Pisces in early June, then they grow will brighter with Jupiter moving higher each morning. Neptune and Saturn, in Pisces and Aquarius respectively are higher than and farther south of Jupiter. From the 18th to the 27th, the waning Moon appears to slide by each of the morning planets, from Saturn high in the south to Venus and Mercury low in the east.




Planet Passages




Taurus, Gemini


New Moon

10:52PM EDT




+2.7 to -0.6

Max. West Elongation

11:00AM EDT



Aries, Taurus

-3.9 to -3.8

Uranus, 1.6°S

9:00AM EDT




+0.7 to +0.5


Pisces, Çetus

-2.1 to -2.3



+0.7 to +0.6



5.9 to +5.8

Venus, 1.6°N

9:00AM EDT





  • June Moon

The New Moon of June in Gemini on the 28th at 10:52PM EDT is the start of Lunation 1231 which ends 29.63 days later with the New Moon of July in Cancer on the 28th at 1:54PM EDT.

The Full Moon of June in Ophiuchus is on the 14th at 7:52AM EDT. It is called The “Fruit Moon”. It was the “Rose Moon” in Colonial America and the “Dyan Moon” in Medieval England. Celts called it “Moon of Horses”, and the Chinese call it “Lotus Moon”. Of 13 Grandmother Moons during each year, the Anishnaabe (Odawa and Ojibwe) first people recognize the 6th Moon as Odemiini-giizis (Strawberry Moon) in the western dialect or Baashkaabigonii-giizis (Blooming Moon) in the eastern dialect. According to the folks at Earth Haven Farm in Ontario, this Grandmother Moon is the Strawberry Moon and the cultural teaching that explains the cycle of life and nature for the Strawberry Moon of Creation is that: “The medicine of the strawberry is reconciliation. It was during this moon cycle that communities usually held their annual feasts, welcoming everyone home, regardless of their differences over the past year, letting go of judgment and/or self-righteousness.” 

Two Lunar Apogees (maximum lunar distance) in June are on the 1st at 10:00PM EDT, when the Moon will be at a distance of 252,395 mi. (63.69 Earth radii) and on June 29 at 2:00AM when the Moon will be at a distance of 252,637 mi. (63.74 Earth radii). Lunar Perigee distance (minimum lunar distance) is 222,099 mi. (56.04 Earth radiil) on the 14th at 7:24PM EDT, 11.5 hours after Full Moon. The proximity of Full Moon and perihelion produces a larger and brighter Full Moon – a Supermoon!

The waning gibbous Moon appears to pass Saturn on the 18th and Neptune on the 20th. The waning crescent Moon passes Jupiter on the 21st, Mars on the 22nd, Uranus on the 24th, Venus on the 26th, and Mercury on the 27th.




Moon Passages

Moon Phase

Moon Age

Sun Taurus


10:52PM EDT, 6/28 New 0 Days
Mercury Taurus


3.9°N, 3:00AM EDT, 6/27 Waning Crescent 28.17 Days
Venus Taurus


2.60°NNW, 3:00AM EDT, 6/26 Waning Crescent 27.13 Days
Mars Pisces


0.86°SE, 4:00PM EDT, 6/22 Waning Crescent 23.67 Days
Jupiter Pisces


2.46°SE, 1:00PM EDT EDT, 6/21 Waning Crescent 22.54 Days
Saturn Capricornus


4.0°SE, Noon EDT, 6/18 Waning Gibbous 19.50 Days
Uranus Aries


0.37°ESE, 7:00PM EDT, 6/24 Waning Crescent 25.79 Days
Neptune Pisces


3.2° SE, 4:00PM EDT, 6/20 Waning Gibbous 21.67 Days