Talk about hogging the spotlight! Sky-watchers in North America on Sunday night, August 3, will see planet Saturn cozy up to the bright moon. Over a few hours’ time, as seen from the Eastern Hemisphere, stargazers will see the moon dramatically eclipse the planet.
And the best news is that no one has to miss the event, even on the wrong side of the world, thanks to a live webcast of the entire eclipse.
The stunning lineup of the moon sandwiched between Mars and Saturn will be easily visible with the naked eye, even with bright city lights interfering, starting after nightfall on Sunday evening.
A few hours later, as the moon continues its trek across the background of stars and planets, lucky sky-watchers in the Eastern Hemisphere will see the moon actually hide the ringed planet. While there is no need for telescopes or binoculars to catch the special sky show—Saturn will look like a bright star next to the moon—a small scope will reveal the planet’s majestic rings. (The event will come too near dawn on Monday for folks in the Western Hemisphere, but the eclipse can be watched on the Internet. See below.)
“Such an eclipse is called an occultation, and it’s quite dramatic when it involves a bright photogenic object like Saturn, whose rings are now nearly optimally tilted,” says astronomer Bob Berman of Slooh, which will webcast the event.
“Slooh’s live feeds from Australia will capture the actual eclipse of Saturn by the moon, with striking detail visible on the foreground moon and the background planet —a true photobomb moment. This is one of those don’t-miss events,” he said.
The occultation broadcast will begin on Monday, August 4, starting at 4 a.m. PDT/7 a.m. EDT/11:00 UTC.