June skygazing highlights: Strawberry Moon, summertime planet parade

June’s stargazing lineup includes the chance to see most of our solar system’s planets and, toward the end of the month, the full Strawberry Moon

Here are some celestial events that will give you a reason to step outside and look up.

Strawberry Moon welcomes summer

On June 20, the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, officially begins astrological summer for those in the Northern Hemisphere. On June 21, the full Strawberry Moon will grace the sky, rising at peak illumination just after 9 p.m. ET.

According to the Farmer's Almanac, this is the first full Moon to occur within 24 hours of the summer solstice since 1985 and will not happen again for another 18 years. The summer solstice occurs on June 20 and 21, depending on the time zone. 

Despite the name, the Strawberry Moon has nothing to do with the Moon's appearance. Instead, it comes from the time of year when several Native American tribes began harvesting strawberries. 

Planet appearances in June 

June is the start of meteorological summer, a great time to be outside for stargazing. That's why this next sky-gazing tip should come with a disclaimer: Get outside and look at the stars and planets even if there is no special celestial event. It's the best time of year when school is out, and spending a few hours outside could inspire the next space explorer or scientist. 

The planet parade you've likely been hearing about happens on June 3, when Jupiter, Mercury, Uranus, Mars, Neptune and Saturn will line up in the morning sky for those in the Northern Hemisphere. Astronomers call this a conjunction – when planets come close together in the night sky. 

The Sky Tonight App has been hyping this event as a six-planet parade. However, viewing all six planets presents challenges. Without the help of a telescope, it's unlikely you'll see all six simultaneously. 

Visiting an observatory or participating in a sky-gazing event with astronomers may improve your chances of seeing some planets. However, set your expectations that not all six planets will be visible at once. 

If you wait until the end of the month, you'll have a better chance to see more planets. On June 29, the Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will be visible in the early morning. 

Still waiting on our ‘new’ star

Astronomers are still waiting for the next big celestial event of the year after the already impressive total solar eclipse. 

Astronomers expect a nova explosion within the binary star system known as T Coronae Borealis, or T CrB, to happen between now and September. The last time this explosion was observed was in 1946.

When it happens, the nova outburst will appear as a new bright star in the Corona Borealis constellation. It's a good idea to start checking this constellation in the night sky this summer. When you look up and see something new, it indicates that the T CrB explosion has happened.