Backyard Observatory

Saturn Will Be at Its Brightest Tonight, Sitting Next to Jupiter. Here's How to See It.

See the ringed planet at its brightest, hanging out with Jupiter.

Saturn and Jupiter sit in front of the Milky Way. | Pratham Gokhale/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Saturn and Jupiter sit in front of the Milky Way. | Pratham Gokhale/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

There's no denying that July has been a stargazer's wonderland. Jupiter and Venus are super bright, Comet NEOWISE is putting on a once-in-a-lifetime show, and the Delta Aquarid meteor shower is warming up. 

Saturn is joining the show as it hits opposition on the night of July 20. An opposition is one of the best times to see superior planets (ones further from the sun than Earth). The sun, Earth, and the planet in opposition are lined up with the Earth in between the others. The sun will make the outer planet shine bright, and the planet will be at or near its closest approach to Earth. It's one of the best times to be out looking for the ringed planet. 

Opposition will occur at 6pm EDT, per EarthSky, but you'll have to wait for the sun to go down to get the best view. You should be able to get an incredible look because there will be a new moon, ensuring there isn't much light interference as you stargaze. 

The second biggest planet in our solar system will be up in the sky throughout the night, starting its journey in the southeastern sky and moving westward throughout the night. It'll be sitting just to the east of Jupiter. If you've got a telescope handy, in dark skies you should be able to even catch sight of Saturn's rings. 

Even though it's a great night to see Saturn, don't worry if you miss out. It's up there and bright for quite a while. You'll be able to enjoy it throughout the summer, even if it's not quite as bright as at opposition.

Ready to go stargazing?

Here are all the best stargazing events that you can get out and see this month or you could stay in a stream the northern lights from home. If you're just getting started, check out our guide to astronomy for beginners

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.