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Use moon to find Saturn and Antares on evening of August 4

2014-aug-4-saturn-antares-moon-night-sky-chart

Tonight for August 4, 2014

Our sky chart shows the moon’s position relative to the planet Saturn and the star Antares as seen from North America on the evening of August 4, 2014. However, as viewed from the world’s Eastern Hemisphere – Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand – the moon shines (or shone) closer to the planet Saturn on the evening of August 4. From around the world tonight, look westward after darkness falls to enjoy the evening attraction.

Some people in Australia saw the moon occult – cover over – Saturn for an hour or more earlier today, or when it was the evening of August 4 in their part of the world. The event has now passed, with Saturn disappearing behind the dark side of the moon and then reappearing on the moon’s illuminated side. Click on this site to know the occultation times for Australian localities.

On the evening of August 4, 2014, Anand Sandip in Sydney, Australia, took this photo of the moon and Saturn shortly before Saturn disappeared behind the dark side of the moon. Thank you Anand!

On the evening of August 4, 2014, Anand Sandip in Sydney, Australia, took this photo of the moon and Saturn shortly before Saturn disappeared behind the dark side of the moon. Thank you Anand!

EarthSky’s meteor shower guide for 2014

Saturn, the 6th planet from the sun, is the most distant world that we can easily see with the unaided eye. However, with a modest backyard telescope, you can also gaze at Saturn’s beautiful rings, which are tilted about 21o from edge-on. This evening, Saturn lodges out there at 9.79 astronomical units from Earth and nearly 10 astronomical units from the sun.

That means, from Saturn, the diameter of the sun would appear about 1/10 as large as the sun’s diameter appears from Earth. However, the solar disk from Saturn would only appear about as 1/100 (1/10 x 1/10 = 1/100) as large. So the sun must look pretty small at Saturn’s distance from the sun.

Notice where the moon shines relative to Saturn and Antares on the evening of August 4 and then again on the evening of August 5. You’ll see that the moon has moved in the direction of Antares, the supergiant red star depicting the beating heart of the constellation Scorpious the Scorpion.

Bottom line: By the evening of august 4, 2014, the moon’s orbit around Earth has moved it past Saturn, closer to Antares, the red supergiant star depicting the ruby heart of the Scorpion in the constellation Scorpius.

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