Moon will 'kiss' Saturn on May 31 and other summer sky events to watch

Sky lovers are in for a celestial treat on May 31, as the Moon will appear to "kiss" Saturn in a stunning conjunction event. This phenomenon occurs when the Moon and Saturn pass close to each other in the sky, creating a captivating visual spectacle.

Best viewing time and location

To witness this beautiful event, look towards the southeastern sky just before dawn. Saturn will be positioned to the upper right of the Moon, making it an easily identifiable pairing in the early morning sky.

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Why this event matters

This conjunction offers a unique opportunity for amateur astronomers and casual stargazers to observe two prominent celestial bodies in close proximity. Such events are relatively rare and provide a fascinating glimpse into the dynamic nature of our solar system.

Additional celestial events to watch this year

While the Moon and Saturn conjunction is a highlight, several other celestial events are worth noting for skywatchers.

Perseid meteor shower

One of the most anticipated meteor showers is the Perseids, peaking on August 12-13. Known for its bright meteors and high activity rate, the Perseids can produce up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. 

Viewing is best after midnight in a dark, clear sky. In the U.S., the best viewing locations are in rural areas away from city lights, such as national parks and designated dark sky reserves.

Partial lunar eclipse

On October 8, a partial lunar eclipse will be visible from many parts of the world, including North America. 

During this event, the Earth will pass between the Sun and the Moon, casting a shadow on the Moon's surface. The eclipse will begin around 4:00 AM Eastern Time and will be best viewed in the eastern U.S., with maximum eclipse occurring around 6:00 AM ET.

Planet parade

Mark your calendars for June 3, when a planet parade will grace the night sky. Six planets – Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus – will be visible in a single night. 

This rare alignment offers a spectacular opportunity for skywatchers to observe multiple planets with the naked eye or through a telescope. 

The best viewing times in the U.S. are from 9:00 PM to midnight local time. The planets will be visible across the entire country, with rural areas providing the best conditions for viewing.

Tips for stargazing

  • Find a dark location: Light pollution can obscure your view, so head to a rural area or a designated dark sky park.
  • Check the weather: Clear skies are essential for optimal viewing.
  • Bring the right equipment: While many events can be seen with the naked eye, a telescope or binoculars can enhance your experience.
  • Stay informed: Use stargazing apps or websites to track celestial events and get real-time updates on viewing conditions.