Saturn at Opposition

Today the planet Saturn will pass through opposition, directly opposite the Sun in our sky.

Saturn
Saturn on April 15th, 2016

Saturn orbits the Sun once every 29.45 years. As the ringed planet continues on its way the Earth swings around much faster on our inside track. As a result we lap Saturn once every 378.1 days, passing between the planet and the Sun. During opposition Saturn will be well placed for observation all night long, rising at sunset, transiting at midnight, and setting at sunrise.

During opposition the planet and rings will be slightly brighter than normal, an effect known as the opposition effect. The effect is most notable in the rings where the apparent brightness can increase by 30%. The effect is a combination of two factors, shadow hiding and the retro-reflective properties of the ring particles.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i.

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