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Close approach of the Moon and Saturn

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The sky at

The Moon and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 3°55' of each other. The Moon will be 27 days old.

From Seattle, the pair will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 04:02 (PST) – 3 hours and 44 minutes before the Sun – and reaching an altitude of 25° above the south-eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks around 07:22.

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 -10.5 in the constellation Virgo, and Saturn at mag 0.5 in the neighbouring constellation of Libra.

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

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
The Moon 14h19m20s -15°38' Virgo -10.5 32'54"4
Saturn 14h23m20s -11°49' Libra 0.5 15"8

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0. The pair will be at an angular separation of 40° from the Sun, which is in Ophiuchus at this time of year.

The sky on 10 December 2012
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

27-day old moon
Waning Crescent


27 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 06:01 10:40 15:19
Venus 05:29 10:13 14:58
Moon 04:35 09:25 14:14
Mars 09:56 14:08 18:19
Jupiter 15:37 23:21 07:10
Saturn 04:02 09:13 14:23
All times shown in PST.


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
28 Apr 2013  –  Saturn at opposition
10 May 2014  –  Saturn at opposition
22 May 2015  –  Saturn at opposition

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