Saturn will meet a giant blue moon tonight (August 30), as the full moon will serve as a perfect guide for spotting the gas giant.
The super blue moon, the second full moon of the month, will pass about 2 degrees from Saturn, about a finger’s width at arm’s length. At about the same time, the two celestial bodies will share an arrangement astronomers call conjunction, which means they have the same correct height, or longitude, in the sky. Both the moon and Saturn will be in the constellation of Aquarius during the approach and conjunction.
according to in the skyFrom New York City, the close approach of the moon and Saturn will be visible just after sunset at around 7:25 p.m. EDT (2325 GMT) on Wednesday as it rises from the eastern horizon. Then, the moon and gas giant will set around 6:07 AM EDT (1007 GMT), just before sunrise, on Thursday, August 31. During the moon’s approach to Saturn, the two moons will be too widely separated to be seen with the narrow field of view of a telescope but narrow enough to be seen with binoculars.
Related: The night sky August 2023: What you can see tonight [maps]
During conjunction, the Moon will have a magnitude of -12.8, with the negative prefix denoting a particularly bright object above Earth, while Saturn will be dim at magnitude 0.4. The moon will dominate Saturn in terms of apparent size in the night sky, but of course this is an effect of the moon’s proximity to Earth compared to Saturn, which is the sixth planet from the sun (Earth is the third planet).
In terms of actual size, the Moon is much smaller than Saturn, which means that if the two celestial bodies were equidistant from Earth, the gas giant would easily rule the night sky above Earth rather than the Moon.
The diameter of the moon is about 2,200 miles (3,500 km), about a quarter of the diameter of our planet, while the diameter of Saturn is about 72,300 miles (116,500 km), which is about 9.5 times larger than Earth. Thus, it would take at least 34 objects the size of our moons to completely orbit Saturn’s equator.
The sheer size of the gas giant becomes even more intimidating when you consider its size. Earth would fit about 50 moons in the space it would fill, while it would take about 760 Earth moons to fill the volume of Saturn. This means that it would take about 3,800 moons to occupy the space occupied by the gas giant, which is the second largest planet in the solar system after Jupiter.
If you were hoping to catch a glimpse of the Moon in conjunction with Saturn, here are our guides The best telescopes And best binoculars It’s a great place to start.
If you are looking to take pictures of these orbs night sky In general, see our guide on how to photograph the moon or how to photograph the planets, as well as our guide The best cameras for astrophotography And The best lenses for astrophotography.
Editor’s note: If you took a photo of the Moon with Saturn and would like to share it with Space.com readers, send your photo(s), comments, name, and location to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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