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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°33' of each other. The Moon will be 23 days old.

From Ashburn, the pair will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 01:36 (EDT) and reaching an altitude of 29° above the southern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks around 06:23.

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The Moon will be at mag -11.8; and Saturn will be at mag 0.3. Both objects will lie in the constellation Ophiuchus.

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 the Moon and Saturn 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
The Moon 17h00m10s -17°26' Ophiuchus -11.8 30'11"3
Saturn 16h58m40s -20°58' Ophiuchus 0.3 16"5

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0. The pair will be at an angular separation of 86° from the Sun, which is in Aquarius at this time of year.

The sky on 02 March 2016
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

23-day old moon
Waning Crescent


23 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 06:07 11:20 16:33
Venus 05:40 10:49 15:57
Moon 01:33 06:37 11:41
Mars 00:14 05:14 10:14
Jupiter 18:24 00:50 07:12
Saturn 01:36 06:27 11:18
All times shown in EST.


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

29 Nov 2015  –  Saturn at solar conjunction
03 Jun 2016  –  Saturn at opposition
10 Dec 2016  –  Saturn at solar conjunction
15 Jun 2017  –  Saturn at opposition

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