Skywatching: Slipping by Saturn

August 27-29

MARS has been on the move all summer. If you have been watching it over the last few months, you will remember that Mars was well to the right of SATURN in June and sped past the star Spica in July. A few nights ago (during one of Chicago’s recent thunderstorms, no doubt), Mars finally caught up to Saturn and passed below it.

Look for Mars and Saturn (about equal in brightness) in the western sky as soon as it gets dark. Over the next few days, Mars will move farther to the left of Saturn. One reason for the difference in the two planets’ motion is that Mars moves much faster than Saturn. It takes just under two Earth years for Mars to complete one orbit around the Sun, whereas Saturn takes almost thirty Earth years to orbit the Sun once.

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