Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Saturn is at opposition on 7/9/2019

During July, Saturn will be well-positioned for observing all night while it moves retrograde (westward) through the stars of northeastern Sagittarius. Look for it as a medium-bright, yellowish object in the lower part of the southeastern sky, sitting east of the Milky Way. The ringed planet will reach opposition on July 9. On that night, Saturn will rise at sunset. Its minimum separation from Earth of 9.0 AU (839,472 miles or 1,351 million km) will cause Saturn to shine at a maximum brightness of magnitude +0.05 and exhibit an apparent disk diameter of 18.4 arc-seconds. The rings, which will narrow every year until the spring of 2025, will subtend 42.86 arc-seconds across. On July 15, the bright, nearly full moon will be positioned 2.5 degrees to the right (west) of Saturn.

Tonight (July 9), Saturn is at opposition, when it lies on the opposite side of the sky from the sun. This is also when the planet's apparent size is greatest and it puts on an all-night performance with greatest gleam, shining at magnitude +0.1. Compared to the 21 brightest stars, Saturn would rank seventh, just a shade dimmer than similarly hued Capella in Auriga, the charioteer, and a trifle brighter than blue-white Rigel in Orion, the hunter.


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