This still is a good time to gaze east and see Mars after dusk.

As the sun sets, the red planet already is high in the southeast, where you'll find it in the constellation Virgo. It crosses the meridian now at about 10 p.m.

Not to be outshone -- almost literally -- Venus is high in the western sky at dusk, hanging out now in the constellation Gemini. You can't miss Venus, it's the brightest object in the west. By the middle of the month, the luminescent planet moves quickly into the constellation Cancer. Watch the moon sashay toward Venus on June 15 and engage the effervescent planet in a cosmic tango the next night. Venus migrates to the constellation Leo by the end of the month.

Early risers get a breakfast treat as Jupiter and Saturn come back into view. Look for this giant, dynamic duo in the east. Jupiter is the first to rise in the hours before dawn, and the ringed planet follows shortly. As June wanes, the planetary mammoths climb higher in the east-southeast and easily will be visible just prior to dawn.

Enjoy the subsiding spring days, for as we inch closer to the end of June you'll begin to notice days getting shorter after the solstice. The summer solstice -- the official start of summer -- arrives at 3:49 p.m. on June 21, the most-daylight day of the year.

Down-to-Earth Events June 5 -- The National Capital Astronomers present Stephen J. Kortenkamp of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, speaking on the "Formation of Planetary Systems," at the regular meeting of the National Capital Astronomers. At the Lipsett Amphitheater in the Clinical Center (Building 10) of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. 7:30 p.m.

June 5 -- Sky watch at Sky Meadows State Park, near Delaplane, Va., after dusk. Directions, information at 540-592-3556.

June 5 -- Astronomer Sylvain Veilleux explains those "Monsters in the Sky: Quasars and Supermassive Black Holes" at the University of Maryland Astronomy Department's open house. The observatory is located on Metzerott Road across from the System Administration Building on campus. Sky watch after the talk. 9 p.m. Information, 301-405-3001.

June 12 -- View the heavens with the National Capital Astronomers and the National Park Service at the field near the Rock Creek Nature Center, Military and Glover roads NW. Information, 202-426-6829.

June 20 -- Hang ten with astronomer Kevin Rauch when he discusses "Surfing the Universe on Gravity's Waves" at the University of Maryland Astronomy Department's open house. Sky watching after the lecture.

June 23 -- Scientist Robert W. Wilson recalls how he co-discovered cosmic microwave background radiation -- the crucial evidence of the Big Bang -- in "After the Big Bang." At the Einstein Planetarium, National Air and Space Museum. 7:30 p.m. Information, 202-357-2700.

June 26 -- In light of Apollo 11's 30th anniversary, Smithsonian geologist Bob Craddock explains how scientists picked the landing sites and what we learned about the moon from those Apollo missions. Einstein Planetarium, 6 p.m.

June 26 -- The last man to walk on the moon, Capt. Eugene A. Cernan (USN-Ret.) of Apollo 17, discusses the journey of the last mission of the Apollo era. At the Langley Theater, National Air and Space Museum. Tickets are $10 for National Air and Space Society members; nonmembers, $15. To purchase tickets, call 202-357-3762.

June 27 -- Charles Jackman, a scientist with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, explains the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite and how the satellite confirmed that chlorofluorocarbons played a role in ozone depletion above the Antarctic. At the Goddard Visitor Center, Greenbelt. 1 p.m. Information, 301-286-3979.