The almost-full waxing gibbous moon pairs up with the planet Saturn on the night of May 13-14, 2014. Earth passed between the sun and Saturn last Saturday, May 10. Saturn is still generally opposite the sun in our sky. A full moon is also opposite the sun. So the moon is near Saturn! We in the western hemisphere won’t see the moon when it turns exactly full on May 14. But some in the eastern hemisphere will see the moon then, and they’ll see the moon pass in front of Saturn in what’s called an occultation. Follow the links below to learn more.
When is the May 2014 full moon? Although the moon will look plenty full all night, it won’t turn astronomically full – or reside most directly opposite the sun for the month – until May 14, at 19:16 Universal Time.
For us in North America, the moon turns full on May 14 at 3:16 p.m. EDT, 2:16 p.m. CDT, 1:16 p.m. MDT or 12:16 p.m. PDT. So for us in the Americas, the moon turns full during the daylight hours, when the moon is below the horizon and under our feet. We’ll see the waxing gibbous moon on the night of May 13-14, and the waning gibbous moon on the night of May 14-15. We won’t see the moon at the instant it turns full.
Nonetheless, the moon will appear plenty full in North America on both of these nights.
The worldwide map above shows you the day and night sides of Earth at the instant of the May 2014 full moon. The shadow line running through western Africa and Europe shows you where it’s sunset on March 14, and the shadow line passing through Japan, the Pacific Ocean and New Zealand shows you where it’s sunrise on March 15.
You have to reside on the nighttime side of Earth (southeastern Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand) to see the moon at the instant that it turns full on the night of May 14-15.
Who will see the occultation of Saturn on May 14? Australia and New Zealand will be in position to see the moon as it turns full, and observers there will see the moon occult – cover over – Saturn on the evening of Wednesday, May 14. The moon will occult Saturn as seen from most of Australia and all of New Zealand.
As seen from Melbourne, Australia, the upcoming lunar occultation of Saturn will happen on May 14, from 8:49 to 10:00 p.m. Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST). As seen from Auckland, New Zealand, this occultation will start at 11:53 p.m. on May 14, and will end at 12:39 a.m. on May 15 New Zealand Standard Time (NZST).
If you’re in the viewing area, you can see this event with the unaided eye. You’ll wish you had a small telescope, though, to see Saturn’s beautiful rings go behind the moon. Shortly before Saturn is occulted, the moon will occult Saturn’s largest moon Titan. What a sight! It’ll be a great night for astronomy in Australia and New Zealand.
These occultations of Saturn tend to happen in groups. The first of the series started on December 1, 2013. These monthly occultations will conclude on October 25, 2014. However, you have to be at the right place on Earth to witness any one of these occultations.
Bottom line: On the night of May 13-14, everyone around the world (except at far-northern Arctic latitudes) will see a full-looking moon close to the planet Saturn on the sky’s dome. Watch the moon and Saturn light up the eastern sky at dusk and early evening, climb highest up for the night around midnight and to sit low in the west at morning dawn.