The bright moon passes by Saturn on Wednesday (Sept. 7), coinciding with the moon’s closest approach to Earth.
Currently in a waxing gibbous phase, the moon will appear near Saturn on the evenings of September 7th and 8th. However, while Saturn currently shines brightly at a +0.4 magnitude, the moon’s glow may make it difficult to spot the ringed planet — especially as the moon reaches perigee.
The moon arrives at its closest point along its orbit to the Earth on Wednesday (Sept. 7) at 2:18 p.m. ET (1618 GMT). This close approach, also known as perigee, occurs because the moon’s distance from Earth varies as its orbit is not perfectly circular. As a result, the moon passes closer to Earth once each month, appearing slightly larger and brighter than at other times, according to In-the-Sky.org.
Last month, Saturn reached opposition — or the opposite side of the Earth from the sun in its orbit — meaning it rises before sunset and is visible until a few hours before sunrise. It is highest in the sky around midnight local time.
To overcome the bright moonlight, skywatchers can try placing a finger over the moon to isolate Saturn in the night sky. Using a small telescope will offer an even better view, helping to reveal Saturn’s rings or possibly even one of its moons, according to EarthSky.org (opens in new tab).
The moon will reach its full phase later this week on Saturday (Sept. 10) at at 5:59 a.m. ET (0959 GMT). This month’s full moon is the closest to the autumnal equinox, which occurs on Sept. 23 at 9:04 p.m. ET (0104 GMT on Sept. 24). In turn, September’s full moon is also called the Harvest Moon.
You can check out our guides for the best binoculars and the best telescopes to spot the bright moon as it passes by Saturn. If you’re hoping to capture a good photo of the duo, check out our recommendations for the best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.
Editor’s Note: If you snap a photo of the bright waxing gibbous moon and Saturn and would like to share it with Space.com’s readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to firstname.lastname@example.org.