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Close approach of Saturn and Mars

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The sky at

Saturn and Mars will make a close approach, passing within 2°40' of each other.

From Fairfield, the pair will become visible around 20:27 (EDT) as the dusk sky fades, 20° above your south-western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 2 hours and 38 minutes after the Sun at 22:27.

Begin typing the name of a town near to you, and then select the town from the list of options which appear below.

Saturn will be at mag 0.6; and Mars will be at mag 1.1. Both objects will lie in the constellation Virgo.

They will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

At around the same time, the pair will also share the same right ascension – called a conjunction.

A graph of the angular separation between Saturn and Mars around the time of closest approach is available here.

The positions of the pair at the moment of closest approach will be as follows:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
Saturn 13h34m40s -07°20' Virgo 0.6 16"3
Mars 13h30m30s -09°49' Virgo 1.1 5"4

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0. The pair will be at an angular separation of 61° from the Sun, which is in Leo at this time of year.

The sky on 15 August 2012
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

27-day old moon
Waning Crescent


27 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 04:33 11:42 18:51
Venus 02:29 09:47 17:04
Moon 04:11 11:14 18:17
Mars 11:19 16:47 22:15
Jupiter 00:37 08:01 15:25
Saturn 11:13 16:50 22:27
All times shown in EDT.


The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE405 planetary ephemeris published by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

This event was automatically generated by searching the ephemeris for planetary alignments which are of interest to amateur astronomers, and the text above was generated based on an estimate of your location.

Related news

15 Apr 2012  –  Saturn at opposition
25 Oct 2012  –  Saturn at solar conjunction
28 Apr 2013  –  Saturn at opposition
06 Nov 2013  –  Saturn at solar conjunction

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