Kiwi astronomer captures video of close encounter between Saturn and the moon

A Kiwi astronomer has captured the moment Saturn passed by the moon from his home in the Auckland suburb of One Tree Hill.

Josh Kirkley managed to get a video of what's called a "planetary conjunction" at around 5:50pm on Tuesday night.

He told Newshub Saturn passing over the moon is quite common, but seeing them come so close together is a challenge.

"The moon's orbit is slightly tilted and does not always line up with a planet. You also have to be in the right place at the right time with the right conditions weather-wise, and the viewing only occurs in a small area from anywhere in the world. 

"There will be another one of these close encounters between the moon and Saturn in August and that will be the last one for the year."

Kirkley said it was a challenge to get everything together to get the video. He used his camera and his telescope to get the pictures, using the telescope as a camera lens.

"The glare of the almost-full moon was quite bright, so I could not see this happening with my eyes. I had to use my telescope to see the conjunction and capture it with my camera. 

"The pass happened for around 30 minutes, so I had to capture this fairly quickly."

Amateur astronomers can use apps to see if they can watch events like this themselves, Kirkley recommends Sky Guide, Stellarium and StarWalk 2 among others.

A blog on the Stardome Observatory website has a list of some of the best astronomy apps to get stargazing.