Saturn is currently approaching opposition, meaning if you want a peak at what Saturn and its rings look like, this will be your chance! These rings are said to be made of small chunks of ice and rock from comets, asteroids, and shattered moons that were torn up due to Saturn’s strong gravity before reaching the planet. The rings are what give Saturn its unique appearance. Once every 376 days, Saturn will reach opposition in which it will be fully illuminated by the sun and will shine brighter than any other time of the year. In 2019, this phenomenon is located within the northern hemisphere, but every decade or so it will rotate to the southern hemisphere. On July 9th, when this celestial event takes place, the rings of Saturn will be tilted at a 24° angle. This will showcase the northern region of the planet, opening the rings wide and directly revealing themselves.
It will remain at this angle for the next 2-3 years.
Facts about Saturn
Saturn got its name from the Roman god of agriculture and wealth, who is also the father of Jupiter. Both of these planets main composition is hydrogen and helium. As well as Saturn’s rings, there are also over 50 moons that are home to the planet, one of which, Titan, even has its own atmosphere. Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun and is the second largest planet after Jupiter, which is almost 285 times the size of Earth. It takes Saturn 29.5 years to rotate around the sun, but only 10.57 hours to complete one revolution.
How to Get The Best Views
To get the best views of this event on Tuesday, July 9th, use a medium-sized telescope. It will be reaching its highest point in the sky around midnight, but will be visible between 9:30pm and 5am local time. It is best that you view it from the mountains due to low light activity in the area.
Whether or not you’re a fan of all-things-space, this is a must-see event!