Moon Dances with Planets on Sunday, TuesdayLook up to see the moon align with Mercury, Saturn and Venus
Sat., Oct. 5, 2013
Check out unusual nighttime celestial alignments on Sunday and Tuesday. (Starry Night Software)
The moon will meet up with three different planets in the evening sky during two upcoming celestial encounters, one on Sunday (Oct. 6) and the other on Tuesday (Oct. 8).
The ringed planet Saturn, sinking into the west-southwest twilight, is close to Mercury in early October. About 40 minutes after sunset on Sunday, try catching a glimpse of Saturn hovering about 5 degrees above a razor-thin sliver of a crescent moon that's just two days past new phase and a mere 4 percent illuminated by the sun.
Brighter Mercury will be situated about 2.5 degrees to the moon's lower left. Your clenched fist held at arm's length measures roughly 10 degrees, so Saturn and the moon will be separated by half a fist. And the separation between Mercury and the moon will be half of that. [Night Sky: Visible Planets, Moon Phases & Events, October 2013]
This will be a challenging observation, because all three celestial objects will be very low and possibly dimmed by haze, which is seemingly always thickest down near the horizon. In addition, the background sky will still be quite bright. (Binoculars will be a great help.)
You might have a better chance of seeing this trio if you live in the southern United States, for all three will appear somewhat higher from there as opposed to the view from the northern U.S. or southern Canada. This will probably be your last chance to see Saturn in the evening sky before it transitions into the morning sky early next month.
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