Saturn & the Moon Will Have a Close Encounter in the Sky Tonight
Not only has Jupiter been looking swell this month, but Saturn and the moon are also about to put on a show of their own. Late on Tuesday, June 18, the two objects will appear to come close together when viewed from Earth. They'll be hanging low...
Not only has Jupiter been looking swell this month, but Saturn and the moon are also about to put on a show of their own.
Late on Tuesday, June 18, the two objects will appear to come close together when viewed from Earth. They'll be hanging low in the east-southeast sky, per Space.com, just after 10pm local time in the US. You'll see a close-to-full moon with the solar system's second biggest planet sitting just to the moon's upper left at that time.
The moon and Saturn will be near each other starting at 10pm, but the best viewing might be closer to 2 or 3am. At that time, Saturn will be nearly as high as it will get in the sky. At the moment, Saturn stays pretty close to the horizon throughout the night.
This close encounter will be fun viewing because Saturn is nearly as bright as it gets when viewed from down here. That's partly because the ringed planet is just a few weeks from being in opposition to the sun. Also, its rings are tilted toward Earth at an inclination of 24 degrees. That increases its brightness to our eyes.
The display will be visible with the naked eye, but it's worth grabbing a telescope or binoculars because the inclination of Saturn's rings will make for great gazing. The rings can be viewed through binoculars, but they do need to be fairly strong and it might help to have them on a tripod.
While Saturn can be viewed without any tools, it's going to help if you're in a darker area. Saturn's brightness is such that might be able to spot it in the city, but it could be difficult bright urban areas. That's pretty much the case anytime you go stargazing. Light is the enemy. So, bust out your stargazing app briefly, then pocket it for the rest of the night.