You have to get up early to see the moon and planet Saturn in front of the constellation Libra the Scales in the predawn sky on December 28, 2013. From most places worldwide, the Libra star Zubenelgenubi appears between the waning crescent moon and planet Saturn. Saturn is brighter than Zubenelgenubi, though this Libra star is pretty easy to make out in a clear sky. If you can’t see Zubenelgenubi in the glare of the moon’s daylight side on the morning of December 28, try binoculars.
The moon will stay in Libra for another day or two, but Saturn will remain in front of this constellation for the rest of this year and all of 2014.
Libra isn’t a prominent constellation, but it’s easy to spot. It can be identified by its two modestly-bright stars: Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali. Libra occupies the section of sky in between the two bright zodiacal stars, Antares and Spica.
Antares is just beginning to climb out of the glare of morning twilight, so you might not catch this star in tomorrow’s predawn sky. But Antares – like all the stars – rises about 30 minutes earlier with each passing week, so you should be able to locate Libra and Saturn in between the bright stars Antares and Spica some morning soon.
Antares, Zubenelgenubi and Spica are all stars of the Zodiac because they reside so close to the ecliptic – Earth’s orbital plane projected onto the constellations of the Zodiac. Some stargazers use these stars to envision the ecliptic – the pathway of the sun, moon and planets – with their mind’s-eye. That’s how stargazers will locate the golden planet Saturn and the red planet Mars in the months ahead.
Mars will meet up with Saturn for a stunning conjunction in Libra on August 27, 2014. Until that time, let the stars Antares, Zubenelgenubi and Spica map out the roadway of the ecliptic for you on the great dome of sky!
Bottom line: On Saturday morning – December 28, 2013 – the moon and planet Saturn can be found in the predawn sky. From most places worldwide, Libra’s modestly bright star Zubenelgenubi appears between the waning crescent moon and Saturn.