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Moon and Saturn to move closer together, appear to 'touch' in late July

LaksaNews

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SINGAPORE: Astronomy fans in Singapore are in for a treat as the moon and Saturn are set to move closer and appear to "touch" each other from late on Jul 24 into the early hours of the next day.

The phenomenon is known as a conjunction and occurs when the moon, a planet or a star appear close together in the earth’s night sky, according to NASA.

In this case, Saturn and the moon will appear to be close to one another.

"This happens because of Saturn’s and the moon’s position in their respective orbits around Earth and the sun," said the Science Centre Observatory (SCOB) on Thursday (Jul 11) in response to queries from CNA.

This conjunction can be observed from 11.30pm on Jul 24.

The moon and Saturn will then be at their closest at 4.31am on Jul 25, noted SCOB.

"The moon and Saturn will rise late at night in the eastern sky, very close to one another.

"As the night progresses, they will move closer and appear to 'touch' and are nearly inseparable to the naked eye," added the observatory.

A similar conjunction also took place last year, but between the moon and Venus instead.

During such conjunctions, these objects in the sky may appear to be close to one another from an observer's perspective, however, "they are not necessarily physically close to each other", said SCOB.

moon_and_venus_24_mar_2023_a_kannan_1.jpeg

Venus at the tip of a crescent moon as seen in Woodlands, Singapore on Mar 24, 2023. (Photo: A Kannan)

Moon and planet conjunctions occur frequently and according to SCOB, they happen about once every 27 days.

"This is due to the moon completing its orbit around the Earth once a month and passing each of the planets in the sky during this cycle."

The conjunction can be witnessed with the naked eye if the skies are clear and observers are at a location with an unobstructed view such as East Coast Park, the observatory added.

"Although not mandatory, a telescope will offer an enhanced viewing experience and a closer look at the moon and Saturn conjunction," it said.

Skywatchers in the northwestern parts of Singapore can also potentially observe a grazing lunar occultation of Saturn’s rings.

In this occurrence, the rings of Saturn will be partially obscured by the moon’s surface, SCOB said.

Related:​


WHAT'S NEXT?​


If you happen to miss the moon and Saturn meet-up, fret not as there are other celestial events to look forward to.

August will see the Perseids peak over Singapore between Aug 12 and Aug 13, said SCOB previously.

It is known for being one of the brighter annual showers and gets its name as it comes from the same direction as the constellation Perseus.

December will also see the Geminids peak on the night between Dec 13 and Dec 14.

"As with each season of meteor shower, we recommend stargazers to check out the position of the constellations and stargaze later into the night," SCOB advised.

People can also see four consecutive supermoons from August to November.

The one in October will be the closest to Earth while the full moon in August - known as the Sturgeon Moon - will also be a Blue Moon as it happens to be the third full moon of the season, said SCOB.

"While there is no official definition for the supermoon, these four full moons in August, September, October and November occur when the moon is relatively nearer to the Earth, causing it to appear brighter and more prominent," said SCOB.

Stargazers should also note that the moon’s appearance can vary depending on atmospheric conditions and viewing location, it added.

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