October 31, 2014

View Saturn in Opposition

It is the best time of the year to view Saturn. What happens at this time is Earth gets between the sun and Saturn in orbit. It happens every year, and according to U.S. clocks, the time to view Saturn is now.

Opposition is the title astronomers give this phenomenon. At this time, Saturn rises at sunset in the east and sets in the west at sunrise. This means Saturn stays up all night and will look like a bright yellow disk in the sky. It is located near the bright star Spica and near the constellation Virgo. Although it is the 6th planet from the sun, it is the easiest planet to see with the unaided eye at this time. This time occurs approximately 2 weeks later each year, or once every 378 days, so will happen again April 15, 2012.

Only the planets that orbit the sun past Earth’s orbit are able to reach opposition. Mercury and Venus are in orbit inside of Earth, so this situation never occurs. The best time to view Saturn is in the early hours of the evening. If you face east and look for two star-like objects that are very bright and located in the vicinity of each other you may view Saturn. It is the one that is slightly sharper and higher up in the sky. Using a telescope you should even be able to see Saturn’s rings.

Stargazers will be able to view Saturn during most of the month of April, however, it will optimal viewing tonight. The rings around Saturn increase in brightness due to the backscattering of sunlight, so can have a distinct effect.

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Comments

  1. hi i live in mb a seen the saturn on april 4 2011:)

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