Think you can’t find planets, identify bright stars, or find constellations you may want to give this a try. No star maps, you just need to find the Moon. The best times to look are 30 minutes after sunset or when the Moon in is the morning sky about an hour before sunrise.
This month (2013) the Moon will pass by the planets Saturn, Venus, and Mercury. The bright stars to see are Capella, Spica, Regulus, Arcturus, Antares, Altair, Deneb and Vega. This month the constellation Taurus emerges from behind the Sun and the constellation Canis Minor, and the bright star Procyon will lost behind the Sun, as will the planet Jupiter.
This is set up for Aurora, Colorado. Things will be slightly different depending on your location, but will still work for finding the planets and bright stars.
Start observing 60 minutes before sunrise
On June 1-4 a waning crescent moon will be in the constellation Pisces the fishes. There are no noticeably bright stars are in Pisces. Note the moon will be diving toward the rising Sun for the next seven days.
On June 5-6 a thin waning crescent moon is in the constellation Aries, the ram. There are no noticeably bright stars are in Aries.
On June 7-9 the Moon is lost to the glare of the rising Sun. June 8 is new moon or “no moon” meaning the Moon is not visible. It rises and sets with the Sun. The Moon will become visible in the early evening in the west within a few days. The new moon marks the transition of the Moon moving from the morning sky to the evening sky.
Observe 30 to 60 minutes after sunset
On June 10 just after sunset a very thin crescent moon, Venus and Mercury will from a nice triangle in the constellation Gemini the twins. Mercury will be at the top, Venus lower right and the Moon lower left. The triangle will be below the two somewhat bright stars Pollux and Castor the Gemini twins. To the right of the triangle is Capella the goat star in the constellation Auriga, the charioteer.
On June 11-12 the Moon moves to Cancer, the crab. There are no noticeably bright stars in Cancer.
On June 13-15 the waxing crescent moon moves into Leo the Lion and will pass under the star Regulus, the king star, and brightest star in Leo. On June 13 the Moon is below Regulus. The Moon will then move to the left of Regulus then left again and slightly above Regulus.
On June 16 the Moon moves the constellation Virgo the Virgin. The Moon is at first quarter or “half moon”. When the Moon is at first quarter it is approximately in same place in space as the Earth and you were 3.5 hours ago. Spica the brightest star in Virgo is to the left of the Moon. Left of Spica is the planet Saturn.
On June 17 the Moon moves closer to Spica and Saturn. Above the Moon is the bright star is Arcturus in the constellation Bootes the herdsman.
On June 18 the Moon moves between Spica (right) and Saturn (upper left).
On June 19-20 the Moon is in the constellation Libra the scales. There are no bright stars in Libra. Above and to the right of the Moon is Saturn. Left and below of the Moon is the bright red giant star Antares in the constellation Scorpius the scorpion. See if you can detect a red hue.
On June 21 the Moon moves to the constellation Ophiuchus the serpent-bearer and thirteenth constellation of the Zodiac. Antares is below and right of the near full moon.
On June 22-23 the Moon is the constellation Sagittarius the archer. Sagittarius points the way to the center of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Most amateur astronomers call Sagittarius the teapot. The pattern of stars, albeit somewhat faint, looks more like a teapot than an archer. On June 23 the Moon is full. Even though the Moon looks full for three days, technically the Moon is full for only a moment in time. The full moon marks the transition of the Moon moving from the evening sky to the morning sky. For more detailed information about this month’s full moon including names go here. If you look to the upper left if the full moon you will see three widely spaced stars forming a large triangle. Those three bright stars are Altair (right) in the constellation Aqulia the eagle and Vega (highest middle) in Lyra the harp and Deneb (below and to the left of Vega) in Cygnus the swan. Deneb is the dimmest of the three, and the farthest away at 1700 light years. It burns 60,000 times brighter than the sun.
Start observing 60 minutes before sunrise
On June 24 the Moon is still in Sagittarius as it sets over the mountains before sunrise.
On June 25 the Moon is in the constellation Capricornus, the goat. There are no noticeably bright stars in Capricornus.
On June 26-27 the Moon is in the constellation Aquarius the water bearer. There are no noticeably bright stars are in Aquarius.
On June 28 the moon returns to the constellation Pisces the fishes where we started at the beginning of the month. It will remain in Pisces for the rest of the month.
On June 29 the Moon is at last quarter or “half moon”. At this phase the Moon is approximately in the same place in space the Earth and you will be in 3.5 hours. Note how the Moon will plunge toward the rising Sun in the next six days.
Wishing you clear skies