Moon near star Spica and planet Saturn on June 27 and 28
See two bright star near the moon on June 27? They are (or were) the star
Spica and the planet Saturn. The chart at the top of this post shows the moon,
star Spica and planet Saturn on June 28, 2012. Look for them to pop out quite
close to the waxing gibbous moon as soon as darkness falls or any time this
As seen from North American latitudes, Spica and Saturn appear to the west
(right) of the moon on June 28. But as viewed from northerly latitudes in the
Eastern Hemisphere – Europe, Africa, Asia – the moon is seen closer to Spica and
Saturn than it is in North America. At temperate latitudes in the Southern
Hemisphere, you’ll see the moon, Spica and Saturn high in the northern sky at
No matter where you live, Spica, the brightest star in the constellation
Virgo, is the closer of these two bright lights to tonight’s moon. Saturn – the
sixth planet outward from the sun – lies to the north of
Mentally note the moon’s position relative to Spica and
Saturn on these nights, then check out the moon’s position again tomorrow night.
You’ll see that the moon has moved eastward of these bright lights – or in the
direction of sunrise. The moon moves full circle in front of the constellations
of the Zodiac in about four weeks, but slow-plodding Saturn takes nearly 30
years to circle the Zodiac.
If you have a hard time telling the star Spica from the planet Saturn, look
at them through binoculars. Saturn looks yellow or golden in color. Spica
radiates blue-white. Or try to tell which object is twinkling more. That’ll be
the star. Best of all, try looking at Saturn with a telescope, if you have one.
Even a backyard telescope enables you to view Saturn’s glorious
At present, Saturn’s rings are inclined our way at a little
more than 12o from edge-on, near their minimal inclination for the year.
However, the rings will begin to open up more widely, starting in late July and
early August. By the end of this year, the tilt of the rings will have increased
to nearly 19o.
That’s this Thursday night, June 28, 2012: The star
Spica and the planet Saturn near the waxing gibbous moon. They are near the moon
on June 27, too.
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