Saturn at Opposition
The perfect time to observe Saturn at its best! The ringed planet will shine all night long among the stars of Sagittarius.
On July 9, 2019, Earth’s orbit will carry us between Saturn and the Sun, bringing Saturn to what astronomers call opposition. On that date, the gas giant will rise at sunset and arrive at its minimum separation from Earth. Saturn will shine at a peak brightness for the year 2019. Don’t fret if Tuesday is cloudy. Saturn will look nearly as good for several days.
At the time of opposition the planet’s brightness, apparent magnitude and the duration of night-time visibility are maximized. Most of the time the rings of Saturn are of the same brightness as the planet. But the gas giant has a unique feature you probably didn't know about - during the opposition, due to the direct lighting, the brightness of the rings increases greatly making them even brighter than the planet itself.
Yellow-tinted Saturn will remain visible all night long. Its position in the sky is just to the left (east) of the stars that form the teapot-shaped constellation of Sagittarius (the Archer). To find it, look about 3 fist diameters to the lower left (east) of Jupiter. Once the sky is dark, even a small telescope will show Saturn's rings and several of its brighter moons, especially Titan.
Get more tips and facts on observing Saturn and other celestial objects in your sky in our Star Walk 2 app.