The Moon in conjunction with Venus and Jupiter, with the Very Large Telescope in the foreground. Image © Y. Beletsky, ESO, 2009.

Close approach of the Moon and Saturn

Sun, 22 May 2016 at18:18 EDT(670 days ago)
22:18 UTC

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The sky at

The Moon and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 3°11' of each other. The Moon will be 16 days old.

From Ashburn (click to change), the pair will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible at around 21:54, when they rise 7° above your south-eastern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 01:59, 30° above your southern horizon. They will be lost to dawn twilight at around 05:32, 12° above your south-western horizon.

The Moon will be at mag -12.5, and Saturn at mag 0.0, both in the constellation Ophiuchus.

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 16h51m40s -17°28' Ophiuchus -12.5 29'50"0
Saturn 16h50m10s -20°38' Ophiuchus 0.0 18"3

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0. The pair will be at an angular separation of 167° from the Sun, which is in Taurus at this time of year.

The sky on 22 May 2016
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

16-day old moon
Waning Gibbous


16 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:11 11:57 18:43
Venus 05:40 12:49 19:57
Moon 21:10 01:24 06:33
Mars 20:12 01:06 05:54
Jupiter 13:37 20:06 02:38
Saturn 21:02 01:59 06:51
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.

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22 May 2015, 21:22 EDT  –  Saturn at opposition
03 Jun 2016, 02:25 EDT  –  Saturn at opposition
15 Jun 2017, 06:05 EDT  –  Saturn at opposition
27 Jun 2018, 09:15 EDT  –  Saturn at opposition

Image credit

The Moon in conjunction with Venus and Jupiter, with the Very Large Telescope in the foreground. Image © Y. Beletsky, ESO, 2009.




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