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Saturn and a 'strawberry moon' will brighten night skies

The ringed planet will be in the best spot for cosmic paparazzi to take in its glamour starting Tuesday night.

saturn-cassini

Perhaps the most beautiful planet on the celestial block.

NASA

It's a red-letter week for night sky watchers as a full moon and arguably the solar system's most attractive planet will be on full display.

Starting on Tuesday night, Saturn will be opposite the sun in the sky. This means that Earth will be at its closest point of the year to the ringed planet, providing a great opportunity to check out those rings for yourself.

Saturn will rise around sunset and climb to its highest point at 12:57 a.m. PT early Wednesday morning before setting at sunrise.

Normally, Saturn's rings are about as bright as the planet itself, but according to Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, they will clearly appear brighter than the planet this week. 

The rings are also currently tilted in such a way that they will be perfect for observing from Earth. It may even be possible to view some of Saturn's notable moons, like frozen (but perhaps not totally dead) Enceladus

Adding to the excitement will be a full moon in the early morning hours Thursday. The June "strawberry moon" won't actually look like the famed fruit, but is so-called because it's thought to have been a signal to Algonquin tribes to start gathering ripe wild strawberries. 

So starting Tuesday night, head outside with a telescope or binoculars if you can and look for Saturn shining in the east relatively close to the big moon. And if you can't find it, you'll have plenty of time to look as the gas giant will remain in a good place for observation through July and August. 

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