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Close approach of Mars and Saturn

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The sky at

Mars and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 4°21' of each other.

From Ashburn, the pair will become visible around 20:15 (EDT) as the dusk sky fades, 29° above your southern horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting at 00:26.

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

Mars will be at mag -0.4; and Saturn will be at mag 0.2. 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 Mars 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
Mars 16h30m30s -24°39' Ophiuchus -0.4 10"9
Saturn 16h32m50s -20°20' Ophiuchus 0.2 16"8

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0. The pair will be at an angular separation of 98° from the Sun, which is in Leo at this time of year.

The sky on 24 August 2016
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

22-day old moon
Waning Gibbous


22 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 08:45 14:42 20:38
Venus 08:19 14:34 20:49
Moon 23:34 06:21 13:08
Mars 14:51 19:27 00:05
Jupiter 08:35 14:46 20:56
Saturn 14:36 19:29 00:26
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

03 Jun 2016  –  Saturn at opposition
10 Dec 2016  –  Saturn at solar conjunction
15 Jun 2017  –  Saturn at opposition
21 Dec 2017  –  Saturn at solar conjunction

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