After Mars’s opposition last week, now, it’s time to witness Saturn’s.
June 2 to 3 will offer an amazing view of the ringed planet, which will appear closest and brightest for the year.
Saturn is the farthest planet in our solar system that can be viewed with the naked eye. It shines with a magnitude 0, as reported by Space.com. In comparison, the red planet Mars has a brightness magnitude of -2.0, while Antares is dimmer than Saturn by one magnitude.
As reported by Sky and Telescope, the north face of Saturn’s rings is angled at 26 degrees in our direction. While the planet appears honey-colored, the rings have a much brighter and whiter appearance.
Usually, three of the planet’s rings are viewable. The middle ring, called Ring B, is the widest and appears brightest among the three. A gap, called the Cassini Division, exists between the rings A and B. However, the most difficult to detect is ring C, which is translucent and is heavily affected by Saturn’s glare.
According to Sky and Telescope, to view the ring one should “look for gauzy, veil-like arcs that partially fill the gap between the disk and B ring.” The website also describes the ring as “a narrow, gray band where it passes in front of the globe.”
The ringed planet will be best viewable when it reaches its highest at around midnight local time, or 1 a.m. daylight saving time. The planet will be visible due south for stargazers and astronomers in the northern hemisphere.
Currently, the planet is located in the constellation Ophiuchus.
The atmosphere of Saturn is much quieter than that of its neighbor, and the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter. One can observe light and dark bands on Saturn through a telescope. The polar regions of the planet appear to have an olive green color, Space.com notes. Bright spots in the clouds have helped astronomers calculate the time it takes for the planet to complete one rotation, which is around 11.8 hours.