The Moon and Saturn

On 2 February, the moon drifted right past Saturn’s position in the sky (from the point of view of Earth, of course). It made for quite a lovely sight, though as the moon approached its closest, it would not have been possible to make out the dot of Saturn right next to the extremely bright full moon—with the naked eye, that is.

P-M Hedén maintains a great web site with his collection of astrophotography; he captured this beautiful portrait of both worlds:

View of full moon and Saturn

Copyright P-M Hedén. Used with the author’s permission.

The full-sized version is quite striking. Both worlds are essentially on the opposite side of Earth from the sun, so they are fully lit from our view. The contrast of the incredibly sharp detail of the moon’s geologic features with the blurriness of Saturn, as well as the remarkable size difference, just underscores the unbelievably vast distance between Saturn and Earth.

It’s a wonder we’ve been able to guide spacecraft to Saturn and beyond.