Saturn to come closest to Earth at 11.30 am today. Here’s how to watch the Gas giant in India
New Delhi, Aug 02: Earth's faster motion in orbit brings Saturn to opposition once each year. Opposition is a big yearly milestone for observing the ringed planet Saturn, or any outer planet.
Dr. Suvendu Pattnaik, Deputy Director of Pathani Samanta Planetarium said,''"Once every year, Earth and Saturn come close to each other while revolving in their orbital path. In a time span of 1 year and 13 days they come closest to each other. Earlier, they came close on July 20, 2020 and will again do so on August 14, 2022.''
He said, "When they are very close to each other, the average distance will be around 120 crores kilometres, which is 50 crore kilometres less in comparison to the maximum distance between them, which happens after 6 months when Saturn will be across the other side of the Earth."
It happens when we on Earth fly between that planet and the sun. At opposition, an outer planet is generally closest to Earth and brightest for that year. Saturn's opposition comes on August 2 at about 06:00 UTC. That is on August 2 at 3 a.m. ADT, 2 a.m. EDT, 1 a.m CDT, 12 midnight MDT ... yet on August 1 at 11 p.m. PDT, 10 p.m. Alaskan Time and 8 p.m Hawaiian Time.
And don't worry about exact times too much. Just know that - in early August 2021 - Saturn is generally opposite the sun in Earth's sky. At opposition, Saturn rises in the east around sunset, climbs highest up for the night around midnight and sets in the west around sunrise. When opposite the sun, Saturn is visible all night and at its brightest seen from Earth.
How can you find Saturn?
First, look for Jupiter, which is the brightest starlike object in the evening sky once Venus sinks below the western horizon after sunset. Saturn is not far from Jupiter, located along the same path the sun travels during the day (the ecliptic). Saturn is the bright golden "star" a short hop to the west of Jupiter. Saturn lies in the direction of the constellation Capricornus and can be found there for the rest of 2021.
How to watch the phenomenon:
According to him, Saturn will appear bright even with the naked eye and it can be seen throughout the night for the whole month of August.
"A few satellites of Saturn can also be seen with a small telescope," he added.