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Saturn and Jupiter frame the moon, August 12

Saturn and Jupiter: Star chart: moon between dot of Jupiter on left and Saturn on right along green line of ecliptic.
Check out the trio of a bright waning gibbous moon between Saturn and Jupiter on the night of August 12 and into the morning of August 13. Saturn reaches opposition on August 14. Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.

The moon between Saturn and Jupiter

Overnight on August 12-13, 2022, the waning gibbous moon sweeps between two bright planets. They are the largest two gas giants, golden Saturn and bright Jupiter. While Saturn is up all night, Jupiter doesn’t rise until around 10 pm local time (the time on your clock wherever you are around the world). Also, they’ll be a glorious sight before dawn. So look for the trio – Saturn, the waning gibbous moon and Jupiter – along the ecliptic, the path that the sun and moon travel across your sky.

It’s pretty easy to distinguish Jupiter from Saturn, because Jupiter is much brighter. Yet Saturn shines brilliantly as a +0.3-magnitude light, one of the brightest in our sky. However, Saturn pales next to Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. Jupiter outshines Saturn by some 16 times. In fact, Jupiter is shining at -2.6 magnitude now, nearly as bright as it gets. Jupiter ranks as the 4th-brightest celestial body to light up the heavens, after the sun, moon and the planet Venus, respectively.

Saturn reaches opposition in August 2022

By the way, August 2022 is the best time this year to view Saturn. It reaches opposition on August 14, 2022, when Saturn’s disk spans 8.79 arcseconds. Saturn is easy to spot as the brightest star in the dim constellation of Capricornus. Also, you can see Saturn’s rings using a small telescope. The rings currently tilt 13 degrees toward Earth. We are glimpsing the northern side of the ring plane. Saturn will be highest in the sky around midnight.

For more great observing events in the coming weeks, visit EarthSky’s night sky guide

Bottom line: Catch the waning gibbous moon between Saturn and Jupiter overnight on August 12-13, 2022. Jupiter rises around 10 pm local time. You can spot the trio all night until dawn.

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