Late Summer Southern Showcase

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Tonight, the moon is within the same wide-field view of the majestic ringed-beauty, Saturn. Tomorrow and Wednesday night, it will likewise be within the same wide-field view of brilliant Mars, having just past opposition.

It is rare that so many solar system objects are all located so closely in a singular view. This week, moving along the ecliptic towards full moon on the 26th, the the August moon, Sturgeon Moon, the Green Corn Moon or the Grain Moon the moon will be favorably positioned near 3 of the solar systems major planets.

Tonight, it is within the same wide-field view of the majestic ringed-beauty, Saturn. Tomorrow and Wednesday night, it will likewise be within the same wide-field view of brilliant Mars, having just past opposition.

On the 19th, with brilliant Jupiter almost due west, the moon was sitting on a line connecting Saturn and the red-giant heart of the Scorpion, Antares.

It is interesting to point out that the Milky Way’s (our galaxy’s) center is positioned as the backdrop to this this celestial showcase but may not have the visual impact it would normally have given the moon’s location in the foreground.

Also, as a mental exercise, the position of these 4 solar system objects in the southern quadrant of the sky, the moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, allows us to visualize and project the plane of our solar system on the sky in our mind’s eye and thus, imagine our place and the place of our home planet in the solar system. In previous articles, I have often discussed the Ecliptic, the sun’s path across the sky.

All illustrations produced with Stellarium.

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