While FIBArk and Salida ArtWalk will put on shows of people vs. nature and artists’ creativity, the night sky above the Sawatch Range will put on its own show in June as Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury will be spectacularly visible at several different dates and times.

Jupiter is king of the planets as it travels into the month and toward its opposition with the sun today.

The gaseous giant will rise in the east today as the sun sets in the west, leaving it visible the entire night.

Shining at a magnitude of -2.6, Jupiter will be one of the brightest objects in the night sky. Four of its largest moons and cloud bands will be easily visible even with a small telescope.

Saturn will become more visible throughout the month as well, as it rises about two hours after Jupiter, earlier each night as it approaches its own opposition in July.

During FIBArk the moon approaches Jupiter as its tour begins June 16, and its visit ends June 19 after it swings past Saturn.

If you have a good view of the western sky, Mercury will return, being its highest after sunset June 23, two days after summer solstice.

Spot the planet low on the western horizon, close to the much dimmer and redder Mars. This will be the best chance this year to spot Mercury in the evening and nearly the last chance to see Mars too.

The two smallest planets in the solar system, Mars and Mercury, pass close to each other June 17-18, coming within one-fourth degree, or half the width of a full moon, making for a potentially great landscape photo at twilight.

Information for this article is attributed to NASA Night Sky Notes written by David Prosper.

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