Sunday, 22 July, 2018

Saturn to reach opposition next to the Full Strawberry Moon Wednesday night

Image NASA Image NASA
Frank Williams | 26 June, 2018, 21:47

A sweet celestial treat known as a strawberry moon will greet sky watchers across the Pacific Northwest Wednesday night, weather permitting.

"Wednesday evening into Thursday morning, June 27 to 28, 2018, the bright planet Saturn, almost at its brightest and closest to the Earth for the year, will appear below the full Moon", the US space agency reports.

The ringed planet will be at its closest to the Earth and will be illuminated by the Sun.

June's full moon is often called the Strawberry Moon, which is named because it signaled to the Algonquin tribes that it was the time of year to gather ripening strawberries, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac.

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Adding to the excitement will be a full moon in the early morning hours Thursday. Fortunately for skygazers, viewing the Saturn opposition won't require any sophisticated equipment, as a solid, reliable set of binoculars should do the trick in most cases.

The best time to see the full moon is 8:05 p.m. ET on the east coast, and 7:51 p.m. PT on the west coast. This means it is the best time of the year to view Saturn in the sky, as it makes a close approach with the Moon and comes the closest to Earth it will all year.

Look to the western horizon to see the "Evening Star" Venus as well as the elusive planet Mercury. "A small telescope is all you need". If you can organize a camping trip, go as far as you can from civilization to get the darkest sky showing the brightest details of a starry night. The stargazers could easily view the Saturn's rings as well as the large moon of the planet, Titan, with the help of a good binocular or telescope. Those who wouldn't be able to catch it on that date, however, have up until September to see Saturn in opposition, unlike the one-night-only Strawberry Moon. Overnight Tuesday, Saturn will reach its highest point.

Next month will be one of the best times in several years to view the Red Planet as it will be particularly close to Earth.

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