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Moon passes Saturn, pairs up with Spica on August 4

4 Aug 2011, 08:01 UTC
Moon passes Saturn, pairs up with Spica on August 4
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Tonight, the moon is leaving the planet Saturn to pair up with the star Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo. As seen from North America this Thursday evening, the moon and Spica shine close enough together to occupy a single binocular field of view.
In the world’s eastern hemisphere – Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand – the moon won’t be as close to Spica as it is in the Americas. In this part of the world, the moon will appear farther west of Spica – or offset in the direction of Saturn. No matter where you live, however, the moon is presently moving away from Saturn and toward Spica. In a few more days, the moon will leave Virgo to enter the constellation Libra.
Spica: Speed on
At nightfall on any given date, people in the Americas see the moon farther east in front of the backdrop stars than they do in Europe and Africa. Also, on any given date, people in Europe and Africa see the moon farther east on the stellar backdrop than they do in Asia. On any date, nightfall comes first to Asia, then Europe and Africa, and finally to the Americas.

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