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S&T: Lauren Darby

June is the "hump month" for northern stargazers. With the solstice falling on June 21st, you experience the longest day — and the shortest night — of the year. When you step outside, you'll find that the Sun doesn't set until at least 8 p.m. (in the Northern Hemisphere), and the sky doesn't get good and dark until 9 or 10 p.m.

You can see all five bright planets — Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn — though not all at once. Saturn is the only bright evening planet, riding high in the southwest after darkness falls.

To spot the other four, you'll have to be an early riser. Venus and Mars are traveling together low in the east before dawn. Jupiter rides higher well to their upper right. Mercury makes an appearance around mid-month low down to Venus's lower left.

The evening sky's late-spring constellations are capped, literally, by Arcturus, the fourth-brightest star in the night sky, which appears almost directly overhead in early evening.

To get a personally guided tour of these sights and others, hosted by Kelly Beatty, S&T's senior contributing editor, download this month's audio sky tour to your iPod or other handheld device — or just use your computer to play it.


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