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.

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7 thoughts on “The Moon and Saturn

  1. That’s a marvelous shot. I was just thinking about plans of having a moon colony by 2020. I thought, why shoot for the moon? Shoot for Saturn.

  2. → Penseroso Hah; that would be extremely difficult at that distance, considering we’ve never gotten humans beyond the orbit of the moon and in fact, only five spacecraft ever have reached the distance of Saturn’s orbit. Out of curiosity, where would you place this colony? In orbit around Saturn? On one of the moons? Incidentally, communications would be interesting—while the moon is only just over a light-second away, Saturn is over a light-hour away.

    → Pollyann Aren’t they? I am amazed the talent (and persistence) some of these people have. As one who has spent many nights in the cold gazing upwards, I know how difficult it can be to glimpse whatever it is you wish to see.

  3. I don’t seriously believe that a colony on one of Saturn’s moons is even remotely feasible. I was just being glib.

  4. Don’t be surprised if in the not too distant future it is announced that some of Saturn’s moons will be colonized. I know it sounds bizarre now but things are moving so rapidly these days. 🙂

  5. I know you were, Penseroso, but I still enjoy speculating about such possibilities, not matter how remote.

    Pollyann, yeah, it’s interesting how much the different planets and moons can affect each other. Incidentally, I bet Penseroso’s biggest objection to a Saturn moon colony is that he doesn’t expect humans to survive that long. Am I right?

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