The Moon ate Saturn!

The entire universe in blog form
March 5 2007 2:07 PM

The Moon ate Saturn!

Via the Lunar Picture of the Day comes this astonishing image from Peter Lawrence, an accomplished astrophotographer:

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The Moon passed in front of Saturn as seen from England the other day, and Peter was on it. It was what's called a "grazing occultation", since Saturn wasn't completely eclipsed by the Moon. For my money it's cooler than a full-on occultation! Peter took a series of images and superposed them to get this shot.

FYI, the Moon doesn't pass directly in front of the planets very often, though it's not what I would call really rare. The planets orbit the Sun in roughly (but not exactly) the same plane, and the Moon is a close to that plane as well -- but again, not exactly on it. So we don't get occultations like this every month, but they do happen. Aren't they wonderful?

Give Peter's site a tour. You'll be amazed at what he has done.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!