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Saturn goes into 'opposition' Tuesday afternoon; appears bright at night

10 July 2019

Here is how you can do it.

Tonight, Saturn will be in opposition, meaning it will be at its closest proximity to Earth.

Saturn's opposition technically occurs at noon Central time Tuesday afternoon, however, that night it will still be pretty close to that position, so it will still look pretty bright.

A planet is considered to be in opposition when it is on the opposite side of the sky as the sun, as observed from the Earth.

In 2018, for instance, the astronomical event occurred on the night of June 15 and in 2020 it will happen on July 20.

Here in the United Kingdom, the opposition will, unfortunately, occur in the daylight hours. You could also spot Titan, the planet's largest moon.

Starting at sunset, Saturn will rise in the southeast and slowly move across the night sky before setting in the southwest direction during the early morning hours on Wednesday.

On the nights of July 16 and 17, the full moon, called a Thunder Moon, will provide extra illumination in the night sky, making this another prime opportunity to view Saturn's rings.

So, what is the best way to see the planet and its rings tonight?

Though Saturn itself will be quite visible to the naked eye, its rings - made of ice, dust and debris orbiting the solid planet - won't.

On Tuesday night, most onlookers in the US will be able to watch Saturn up above: Clear skies are expected for the Northeast, southern Plains, and West regions.

Saturn will be bright enough to see in the night skies without the aid of binoculars or a telescope. In this case, it's Saturn, and the line is nearly 900 million miles long.

Saturn goes into 'opposition' Tuesday afternoon; appears bright at night