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Celestial Show: Moon Meets Saturn and Mars This Week

Sep 09, 2016 04:20 AM EDT
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Stargazers are not running out of celestial shows to watch this month. As early as this week, the moon is scheduled to meet planets Saturn and Mars and their gathering is visible in the night sky.

The gathering of three celestial bodies will take place starting Sept. 8. The three most popular bodies in the sky will meet as the moon passes by Saturn and then Mars.

To watch the moon meeting Saturn and Mars in the night sky, it is recommended to use a telescope. The three objects will be visible in the night sky on Sept. 8 and Sept. 9, roughly after the sunset in the southwestern part of the sky. A first-quarter moon is 45 percent illuminated by the Sun, according to Space.com.

Two degrees from the moon is the ringed planet Saturn. The moon will pass by Saturn first, before continuing its journey passing another planet, Mars. Saturn emits a yellow-white glow when viewed from a telescope. The moon is 249,000 miles away from Earth while Saturn is more than 3,700 times farther than the moon. But because of their odd placement, their meeting will be very easy to spot in the night sky even for beginners.

Serious stargazers can also enjoy the view of Saturn's ring by using a magnification of 30-power or higher. Based on a study, Saturn's rings are composed of dust specks made up of water and ice. Saturn's ring changes orientation as it orbits the Sun. This way, it also exposes different sides of its rings to spectators on Earth. As the planet moves, the inclination of its ring also changes exposing the opposite sides of the ring. For serious astronomers, it is worth watching all sides of the rings and its different inclinations while the planet is visible in the night sky.

After the moon's rendezvous with Saturn, it will come near the red planet, Mars, that emits a visible amber or yellow-orange glow. Experts say that the color of the planet originates from iron oxide. By the time the moon pass by Mars, it will be in its half-moon form and will be moving farther away from the Earth.

And if that's not enough, the Antares star that will be six degrees below Saturn can also be spotted in the sky.

When stargazing, it is worth to remember the color and other properties of the objects in the sky to be able to enjoy the celestial show. Saturn will be slightly dimmer than Mars but will remain brighter than Antares, according to Earthsky.Org.

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