Lunar Eclipse June 15

A lunar eclipse — where the Earth’s shadow blocks sunlight from directly shining on the lunar surface — will be visible June 15 to those of you in western Australia, central Asia and Africa, and parts of Europe and South America (weather permitting).  Although Earth blocks sunlight from directly shining on the Moon, some sunlight — refracted (bent) by the Earth’s atmosphere — shines around the Earth and casts an orange glow on the Moon.  So the Moon does not become completely dark.

Lunar eclipse
The Moon during a lunar eclipse. The orange color results from sunlight being refracted (bent) by the Earth's atmosphere. Credit: NASA

The map below shows the areas of Earth where the eclipse will be visible, assuming the weather cooperates.  Those of you toward the west (e.g., South America) should see the eclipse at sunset (when the Moon is rising in the east), and those of you toward the east (e.g., Australia) should see it near sunrise (when the Moon is setting in the west).

World map showing eclipse visiblity
This map shows where the eclipse will be visible on June 15 (weather permitting). Credit: E. Espenak, NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center

The Planets This Month

Saturn dominates the night sky in May: The majestic, ringed planet Saturn appears very close to the bright, binary star named “Porrima” in the Name A Star Live constellation Virgo.  If you have a chance this month, take your telescope out and look for Saturn and Porrima together: It is quite a sight to behold!

Saturn and Porrima in Virgo
Saturn and the bright, binary star Porrima appear very close to one another in Virgo this month.

Jupiter appears in the predawn, eastern sky: It will be the brightest astronomical object you see toward the eastern horizon (other than the moon and the sun!).

Venus and Mars rise shortly before sunrise in the east.  On the morning of June 28, a thin, crescent Moon will appear just above Mars, and just below “The Pleiades,” a group of stars commonly confused with “The Little Dipper.”

Mercury will not be visible for most of June.

When to go stargazing this month

Moonlight ‘drowns out’ the faint light of many stars and other celestial objects, so the best time  to view the stars is when the Moon is not visible.  If you’re going to stargaze between sunset and midnight, then the best time to do that during the balance of June would be in the last week of the month.

Finding your star in the night sky

Stars are located within constellations, which are just areas of the night sky. Scorpius, Aries and Taurus are examples of constellations. Your Name A Star Live Star Certificate displays the name of your constellation.

You can use our online World Constellation Guide to determine if you can see your constellation during the evening hours (between sunset and midnight). Of course, you’ll need a telescope to see your star. (That’s why we include the SLOOH online telescope experience in our Deluxe, Framed and Ultimate Gift Sets!) But you can see your constellation without the use of a telescope.

You can also find your constellation by using our Virtual Planetarium™ astronomy software. A planisphere is another useful device.