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Starwatch: the moon passes Saturn in the dawn twilight

Starwatch: the moon passes Saturn in the dawn twilight

The moon passes Saturn this week. The chart shows the view looking south-east from London at 04:00 BST on the morning of 31 May 2024.

As the sky begins to fill with the dawn twilight, Earth’s satellite and the ringed planet will rise to an easily observable altitude. By now, the moon is 22.6 days old, and has arrived at its last quarter phase with 45.6% of its visible surface illuminated. This puts it just into its waning crescent phase.

Less and less of its visible surface will be illuminated over the next week, and it will rise later and later in the morning until it is consumed by the dawn light. It will then re-emerge a few days later as a waxing crescent in the evening sky.

Saturn is currently 1,465m kilometres from Earth, or about one light hour and 21.5 light minutes away. Its colour is distinctly off-white, verging on yellow, which reflects the colour of its clouds. The conjunction is much easier to see from the southern hemisphere. From Sydney, for example, the pairing will appear in a fully dark sky throughout the night.

Source: theguardian.com