Stunning photos from Dunedin show Saturn disappearing behind the moon

Saturn and the moon.
Saturn and the moon. Photo credit: Ian Griffin / Twitter

Stunning stargazing photos taken in Dunedin show Saturn disappearing behind the moon.

The images were taken at dusk on Saturday night by Otago Museum director Dr Ian Griffin, a keen astrophotographer.

They show Saturn - and several of its moons - moving behind our moon and back out again, an event known as an occultation.

"So here's a picture of our moon, with Earthshine, together with the planet Saturn and it's largest moon Titan. Taken tonight from my back garden in Portobello," he wrote alongside one image on Twitter.

Another image shows several of Saturn's moons in shot, including Titan, Tethys, Rhea and Dione.

Saturn is about 37,650 times bigger than the moon, but its orbit takes it between 1.2 billion and 1.7 billion kilometres away from Earth, while the moon is only about 384,000km away.

Dr Griffin told Newshub that Saturn was visible to the naked eye - although equipment would give a better view.

"The pictures I took were taken through a refracting telescope," Dr Griffin told Newshub. "It was very straight forward, anyone could see this. It was definitely worth staying out late for."

Another South Islander, Ekant Veer, photographed the moon from Christchurch.

"Best pic I could get of Saturn disappearing behind the moon tonight with my 70-200mm lens here in #Christchurch," he wrote on Twitter.