A photographer from Guatemala was able to photograph the Moon at the exact moment when it resembled the ringed planet Saturn. In the image, which was shared by NASA, the Moon looked like it had rings around it.
According to NASA, the photo was originally taken on Dec. 24 last year. It was recently featured in the agency's Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) website on March 16.
Catching The Moon's Saturn-Like Appearance
The incredible photo was taken by a Francisco Sojue, a photographer based in Guatemala. In order to capture the majestic image of the Moon, Sojue traveled to the Acatenango volcano in the city of Antigue. Upon reaching the volcano, he hiked for about six hours to reach the base camp. This location provided him with an unobstructed view of the Moon.
From Sojue's angle, a thin cloud formed right in front of Moon, making it look like Earth's natural satellite has rings around it like Saturn. Sojue snapped the photo as the Moon hovered over another nearby volcano in Guatemala known as Pacaya.
The Moon's Partial Crescent Phase
According to NASA, aside from the cloud in front of the Moon, there are other factors that also contributed to the satellite's unique appearance in the photo. As explained by the agency, since only most of the Moon is being affected by the light from Earth, it exhibited a slight crescent phase.
The crescent that formed at the bottom part of the Moon appeared brighter than the rest of the cosmic body due to the light from the Sun. Since the bottom part of the Moon got hit by the light from the massive star, NASA noted that the photo must have been taken right before sunrise.
"Why does Saturn appear so big? It doesn't -- what is pictured are foreground clouds on Earth crossing in front of the Moon," the agency explained in its APOD website. "The Moon shows a slight crescent phase with most of its surface visible by reflected Earthlight known as ashen glow. The Sun directly illuminates the brightly lit lunar crescent from the bottom, which means that the Sun must be below the horizon and so the image was taken before sunrise."