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Close approach of the Moon, Saturn and Mars

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The sky at

The Moon, Saturn and Mars will make a close approach, passing within 5°14' of each other. The Moon will be 5 days old.

From Cambridge, the trio will become visible around 19:55 (EDT) as the dusk sky fades, 20° above your south-western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 2 hours and 19 minutes after the Sun at 21:55.

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

The Moon will be at mag -11.1; Saturn will be at mag 0.6; and Mars will be at mag 1.2. The trio will lie in the constellation Virgo.

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

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

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

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

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
The Moon 13h30m20s -12°33' Virgo -11.1 32'13"4
Saturn 13h36m40s -07°33' Virgo 0.6 16"1
Mars 13h46m10s -11°23' Virgo 1.2 5"3

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0. The trio will be at an angular separation of 56° from the Sun, which is in Leo at this time of year.

The sky on 21 August 2012
Sunrise
05:58
Sunset
19:36
Twilight ends
21:21
Twilight begins
04:14

4-day old moon
Waxing Crescent

22%

4 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 04:29 11:39 18:50
Venus 02:19 09:40 17:01
Moon 10:41 16:02 21:24
Mars 11:08 16:29 21:50
Jupiter 00:04 07:32 15:00
Saturn 10:44 16:20 21:55
All times shown in EDT.

Source

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

Image credit

None available.

Cambridge

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

42.38°N
71.11°W
EDT

Color scheme