Tag: Saturn

2019, July 9: Saturn at Opposition

On July 9, Saturn is at opposition, nearly a month after Jupiter was in the opposite direction in the sky from the sun.

Saturn is near opposition for several nights before and after reaching this point opposite the sun.  To locate the planet step outside after the sky darkens.  The chart above shows the sky about 90 minutes after sunset; check your sources for the time of sunset at your location. (For example, in Chicago, Illinois, the time for the above chart is 10 p.m. CDT.  Near Omaha, Nebraska, 90 minutes after sunset is 10:30 p.m. CDT.)

Jupiter is the bright “star” that is almost south, but less than one-third of the way up in the sky.  Golden-orange Antares is to the lower right of Jupiter.  Saturn is farther left of Jupiter in the southeast, lower in the sky than Jupiter.  Saturn is among the stars of Sagittarius, brighter than those surrounding stars, but not as bright as Jupiter.  For perspective, the moon is outside the chart.  The gibbous moon is in the southwest, above the bluish star Spica.  On July 15, the nearly full moon is to the right of Saturn.

Through a telescope, the planet’s rings are revealed.  If you’re careful, you might see its a few of its moons, depending on the diameter of the lens or the mirror and the magnification that is used.  The large gap in the rings, Cassini’s Division, might be seen as well.

Viewing Saturn through a telescope is one of life’s memorable experiences.  If you view this spectacular ringed wonder through a telescope, you will certainly remember.  A child will remember this experience.

Opposition occurs when Earth passes between a planet farther from the sun than Earth (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) and the sun.  The planet rises at sunset, appears in the south around midnight, and sets in the west.  When at opposition, the outer planets are closest to Earth, at their brightest points in the sky, and provide the best telescopic views.

Saturn appears at opposition again on July 20, 2020, when it reaches that point just six days after Jupiter’s opposition.  Jupiter passes Saturn in December 2020 for a Great Conjunction that occurs about every 20 years.


2019, April 22-26: The Morning Moon With Jupiter and Saturn

The moon moves past the morning planets — Jupiter and Saturn — during late April 2019.  The chart above shows them about one hour before sunrise.  Check your local sources — TV, newspaper, Internet — for your local sunrise time.  Here are the highlights of the mornings:

  • April 22: At the beginning of morning twilight, the moon (17.0 days old. 90% illuminated), nearly 28° up in the south-southwest, is over 7° to the upper right of Antares.
  • April 23: At 12:30 a.m. CDT, the moon (17.9d, 90%), about 10° up in the southeast, is 2.8° to the upper right of Jupiter. At the beginning of morning twilight, the moon (18.0d, 82%) is 1.5° to the upper right of Jupiter, 25° up in the south. Saturn is 20° up in the south-southeast, about 26° east of Jupiter.
  • April 24: At the beginning of morning twilight, the moon (19.0d, 74%) is nearly between Jupiter and Saturn. The moon is at the top of the lid of the Teapot of Sagittarius, above Kaus Borealis.
  • April 25: At the beginning of morning twilight, now 105 minutes before sunrise, the moon (20.0d, 65%) is 2.7° to the lower right of Saturn.
  • April 26: At the beginning of morning twilight, the moon (21.0d, 55%) is 9.8° to the lower left of Saturn.

2019, March 26-29: Moon Glides Past Morning Planets Jupiter and Saturn

During late March, the moon glides past morning planets Jupiter and Saturn.  The chart above shows the scene about 45 minutes before sunrise.  Check your newspaper, television weather, or Internet source for the time of your local sunrise.  These observations are not time sensitive because the moon and planets are higher in the sky than earlier in the year.

Step outside before sunrise and look south.  Bright Jupiter is there about one-third of the way up in the sky.  Saturn is about 25° to the lower left of Jupiter.  Here’s what to look for:

  • March 26: This morning, the waning gibbous moon that is 68% illuminated is nearly 9° to the upper right of bright Jupiter
  • March 27: This morning. the nearly last quarter moon that is nearly 60% illuminated is over 4° to the left of Jupiter. Notice the distance that the moon moved from yesterday. With a binocular notice that the day-night line (terminator) on the moon is slightly convex – bowed outward.
  • March 28: At the beginning of morning twilight, the thick crescent moon that is 48% illuminated, 19° up in the south-southeast, is 9° to the right of Saturn.   This morning the terminator is slightly concave – bowed in.
  • March 29: This morning, the moon that is 38% illuminated, 14° up in the southeast, is about 3° to the lower left of Saturn.  Notice the amount the moon phase shrank during these mornings.

Look for the moon and Venus on April 1.

More about measurements.  Degrees (°) are used in astronomy to measure separation of celestial objects and sizes of objects as they appear to us, not their real sizes, their apparent sizes.   One-half degree is the apparent size of the moon.  The next time you see the moon in the sky, extend your arm and then your pointer finger.  The tip of the finger, with the finger nail, covers the moon.  Your fist extended toward the sky covers about 10°.  So, on March 26, the distance between the moon and Jupiter is about the distance across your fist.  The next morning about three knuckles is the distance between the moon and Jupiter.

More about the morning planets:


2019: Winter Morning Planet Parade Album

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On a recent trip to a more southerly latitude, the morning planets presented themselves high in the sky.  This album shows them on the mornings of February 28, March 1, and March 2, 2019.  When travelling farther south, the southern stars and planets appear higher in the southern sky.

2019, March 4: Morning Star Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter

2019, March 4: Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter

Brilliant Morning Star Venus, now appearing low in the southeast, shines during morning twilight with Saturn and Jupiter.  The Venus-Saturn gap is 15 degrees.  Jupiter is farther toward the south, over 25 degrees to the upper right of Saturn.

More about the morning planets:

2019, February 25: Morning Star Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, and Moon

2019, February 25: The waxing gibbous moon appears in the south

The moon joins the morning display of planets.  The moon is slightly gibbous and reaches its last quarter this morning.  The Imbrium Basin, is at the top of the moon near the terminator, the day-night line.  Copernicus, the bright spot below Imbrium, is an impact crater.  The moon is near 27 degrees to the upper right of Jupiter.

2019, February 25: A morning planet parade with Jupiter, Saturn, and Morning Star Venus

The planets are farther east.  Brilliant Morning Star Venus is well past Saturn, about 7.5 degrees.  Venus continues moving away from Saturn and the RInged Wonder appears slightly higher in the sky each morning.

Jupiter is nearly 26 degrees to the upper right of Saturn.

Watch the moon move past the planets during the next several mornings.

More about the morning planets:

2019, February 21: Venus, Saturn, and Jupiter

2019, February 21: Venus is 3.4 degrees to the left of Saturn. Jupiter is in the south.

This morning, three days after the Venus-Saturn conjunction, the brilliant Morning Star Venus is 3.4 degrees to the left of Saturn. Watch the Venus-Saturn gap continue to grow during the next several mornings.  Jupiter is about 26 degrees to the upper right of Saturn.

More about the morning planets: