National Geographic
Menu

Moon Visits Mars and Saturn

Skywatchers over the course of the next few nights have a chance to observe the thin-crescent waxing moon pair up with a couple of the brightest planets in the evening sky now, Mars and Saturn. Facing the southwestern sky just after local sunset on June 25 and 26 Luna will first be hanging just below the Red Planet. Pair will be less than 6 degrees apart in the sky – that’s just a bit more than the width of three fingers held at an outstretched arm.

June 28. click to enlarge.

Mars is currently sitting about 200 million km from Earth and will be the center of attention in a little more than 6 weeks from now when NASA’s Curiosity rover arrives at the planet.

Then on June 27 and 28 the Moon will have glided further towards the southern sky and pair up with Saturn – again only 6 degrees apart. Saturn is joined just below it by a true star, Spica – the lead member of the constellation Virgo. Taking 29 years to orbit the Sun, the ringed giant has been hanging around Spica in our skies for the last couple of  years and will remain in its company for another year or so before it moves off to neighboring constellation Libra to its left.

Saturn this week through telescope. credit: David Shuman & Paul Simard

BTW- you can tell Saturn and  Spica apart quite easily because of their contrasting colors. Saturn, sitting at 1.5 billion km from Earth is more creamy yellow while 263 light year distant Spica sparkles like a rich bluish-white celestial gemstone.

If you have a telescope, it’s worth training it on the 6th planet from the Sun – not only can you see its majestic rings, but if you look carefully under high magnification its shadow being cast on Saturn’s cloudtops can be glimpsed. Look beside the planet and you can even spy some of its largest and most reflective moons like Titan, Mimas and Dione.  Don’t believe that Saturn can look cool through a backyard telescope? Check out this amazing composite digital image of Saturn (left) taken through a 14″ telescope located within the city limits of Montreal, Canada on June 23rd.

Time to get out that scope that  has been dusting away in the closet and check out these amazing worlds – and our Moon will conveniently guide you to them this week!

 

Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share his passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the national cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, space columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant for the Canadian Space Agency. As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Andrew has been observing the heavens from Montreal for over a quarter century and has never met a clear night sky he didn’t like.

 

Comments

  1. Miracle
    ODFOELUjSwDfCBmRXPr
    October 21, 2012, 10:16 am

    Star gazing is so much fun. I reebmmer, last year on the trip, it almost seemed like magic, too bad couldn’t attend this year. Lucky you…What bout your trek?

  2. [...] Stephen Hawking And Higgs Boson Bet In Spotlight As Physicists Hail CERN … Posted in Buy Telescope on Dec 26th, 2011 | 0 comments Stephen Hawking And Higgs Boson Bet In Spotlight As Physicists Hail CERN … A bubbling cauldron of star birth is highlighted in this image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. Infrared light that we can't see with our eyes has been color-coded, such that the shortest wavelengths are shown in blue and the longest in red. The … Read more on Huffington Post Moon Visits Mars and Saturn If you have a telescope, it's worth training it on the 6th planet from the Sun – not only can you see its majestic rings, but if you look carefully under high magnification its shadow being cast on Saturn's cloudtops can be glimpsed. Look beside the … Read more on National Geographic [...]

  3. Kurdeliah Tauheedah Abdullaha
    Eastaboga Alabama
    June 25, 2012, 9:00 pm

    For Those Who Understand The Nature Of Things See The
    Beautiful Work Of Almighty God To Show Us All That He
    And He Alone Is In Control Over All Things!
    On June 26 and June 28, 2012 See How The Moon Points
    To Mars And Saturn The movement In Our Beautiful Universe.