Saturn's great show

Posted by Anonymous
on Saturday, February 10, 2007

If you want to observe showy Saturn and its ephemeral rings at their best and brightest in 2007, then plan on setting up your scope tonight. That is when the ringed planet reaches opposition — Saturn and the Sun lie directly opposite one another with Earth between the two celestial bodies. Then, the planet will lie 762 million miles from Earth, its closest approach of the year.

Visible in the east following sunset on the 10th, Saturn will shine at magnitude 0 and cover about 20.3" of sky. Even the smallest scope will reveal majestic Saturn's rings. Their tilt angle will range from 15.4° to 6.7° in 2007. A small telescope should also reveal several of Saturn's brighter moons: Rhea, which shines at magnitude 9.7; magnitude 10.3 Tethys; magnitude 10.4 Dione; and Enceladus, the most challenging for small scopes, at magnitude 11.8.

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