Brainy Quote of the Day

Monday, May 12, 2014

Saturn Opposition...

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On May 10, at 2 p.m. EDT, Saturn reaches opposition — the point in its orbit when it lies opposite the Sun as seen from Earth. The planet then appears as a bright yellowish object at magnitude 0.1 in the constellation Libra the Scales. In the Northern Hemisphere, that star pattern rises in the southeast at sunset.

As you might guess, opposition means the planet rises at sunset, climbs highest in the south around 1 A.M. local daylight time, and sets as the Sun comes up. Opposition also brings Saturn closest to Earth, so it shines brightest for the year (at magnitude 0.1). During times of good seeing (atmospheric steadiness), an observer can pick out the more prominent features of the globe and rings through a 3-inch telescope.

There’s no rush to do this. An apparition (observing season) of Saturn spans a bit more than 10 months. The current one began in late November 2013 when Saturn emerged from the solar glare in the morning sky. The planet will remain visible until October, when it will sink too low in the west after sunset for useful observations.

Astronomy: Saturn shines brightest in May, Michael E. Bakich

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