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Rare lunar occultation of Saturn captured in splendid, wondrous photos and video


A dramatic celestial event known as an occultation unfolded on Monday, August 4th, and video of the whole dramatic phenomenon was broadcast live over the Internet by Australia's Slooh space telescopes and immortalized in stunning images by camera-wielding sky-gazers.

According to the Society for Popular Astronomy, an occultation is an event in which one astronomical body passes directly in front of another as observed from Earth. It's not unlike an eclipse -- but in Internet parlance, as The Daily Mail and Mashable point out, the phenomenon is tantamount to a photobombing.

In Monday's case, it appeared that Saturn photobombed the moon as Earth's natural satellite passed directly in front of the faraway ringed giant. According to the Daily Mail, the event was only visible from the Eastern Hemisphere and was particularly observable in Australia, where it could be witnessed with the naked eye.

Australia's Slooh space observatory chronicled the incredible event with a video feed from several of its powerful telescopes, which can be viewed in the slideshow above.

Colin Legg, a photographer based in Western Australia managed to snag photos of the occultation that capture the rare occurrence in all of its splendor. Saturn and its famous rings were easily recognizable as the planet peeked out from behind the moon.

Legg shot video through a C8 telescope and made screen grabs, which he shared on Facebook and Flickr.

On his Facebook page, Legg noted that the 'perfect conditions' in Western Australia afforded him the opportunity to nail his glorious shots:

'[The] Moon was half full and Saturn entered the darkside an hour after sunset. Even naked eye the view was stunning. I could see Saturn hugging the Moon up a minute before disappearing.'

Legg wasn't the only photographer to capture an amazing shot of the occultation. Padraic Koen, an Australian man, used an astronomical video camera through a Meade ETX90 telescope to catch a breathtaking shot of the event. AOL.com has reached out to Koen seeking permission to use his photo in this story, but in the meantime, click over to his Flickr page to view the image.

And several amateur photographers snapped photos of the event with handheld cameras and shared the images on Twitter, which can be viewed in the slideshow above along with some screenshots from the Slooh broadcast. The photos and video are truly amazing and well worth a look.

Lunar Calendar 2014
Solar Eclipse 2014
Australia's Slooh Space Observatory

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dal August 06 2014 at 7:43 PM

I have a telescope at home and enjoy it a great deal out here where there is no light pollution. I watch in awe as these celestial bodies move across the sky and marvel at the fact that I am looking at a objects millions of mile away. and viewing the craters and the mountain peaks on the Moon is beyond cool.

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laclone dal August 13 2014 at 6:07 PM

What scope do you have?

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tomsfrontporch August 06 2014 at 1:32 PM

great photo. Somebody had to wait for that!

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edwbiker August 06 2014 at 3:58 PM

That cheeky Saturn! We can't show the one with Uranus.

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1 reply
wharp13 edwbiker August 06 2014 at 8:26 PM

The government to be PC, has changed the name of Uranus,,,,,, it is now yourectum.

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1 reply
laclone wharp13 August 13 2014 at 6:19 PM

Juvenile humor abounds! The name is pronounced like "You're-ah-Nus" (short A sound, not long. You do remember grade school grammar?).

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pperovich August 06 2014 at 2:17 PM

Very cool...Aliens....!!

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cpruitt221 August 06 2014 at 6:51 PM

It is so great that we can see this-saturn with its rings

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kell0264 August 06 2014 at 7:11 PM

So cool I love the details

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laclone August 13 2014 at 6:05 PM

Fantastic Pics.

On July 24, 2003, Mars was at it 50,000 year closest to Earth, and did an occultation with the Moon.
Members of my Astronomy club and I drove down from Jacksonville to the Fort Pierce, Fl. area, so we could view it from the area where Mars only appeared to graze the edge of the Moon, never going completely behind it.
I had only received my new 8 inch telescope the day before, and this was it's baptism event.
With a 9mm eyepiece and a 2X Apo Barlow, it was a wonderful sight as, for around 10 minutes, we watched Mars pass across the edge of the Moon. The mountains and ridges of the Moon were highlighted against the surface of Mars as they passed across the surface of Mars.

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Joy August 06 2014 at 8:52 PM

Splendid is the word for it!

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juststeve35 August 13 2014 at 5:28 PM

Cool stuff!

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domingbfan August 06 2014 at 8:03 PM

to much $ spent in space, find a cure for something.

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