For many people, looking through a telescope for the first time at Saturn is a revelation. Through an eyepiece, the planet and its spectacular ring system can seem almost surreal — as if it were actually an artificial projected image and not a gas giant orbiting over 9 times farther from the Sun than Earth.
The best time of year to revel in those views of Saturn is approaching: On August 27th, Saturn will reach opposition, meaning it is directly opposite the Sun. It will glow at about magnitude 0.4 in the constellation Aquarius; the disk will subtend about 19″ and its rings about 43″. The rings will also be tilted slightly toward us by about 9°, giving us the opportunity to perhaps see the Cassini Division or the Encke Gap.
For more information on how to observe Saturn, check out August’s edition of Sky This Month:
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