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Astronomy & Space

See ringed planet Saturn at its greatest in July 2019 – Astronomy Now

July 8, 2019 • By

This looping animation reveals the southern horizon as seen from the British Isles on consecutive sidereal days round 12am BST from 14 to 17 July 2019. Therefore the celebs seem stationary and the movement of the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn is extra simply perceived. For scale, the view is about 50 levels broad, or slightly greater than twice the span of an outstretched hand at arm’s size. Be aware: the Moon’s obvious measurement is enlarged thrice for readability. AN graphic: Ade Ashford.

As July opens, any observer in Western Europe with a transparent sky round native midnight can not miss out on the conspicuous ‘star’ that’s Jupiter low within the south. In the event you’re nonetheless up round 1am, have a look a couple of span-and-a-half of an outstretched hand at arm’s size to Jupiter’s left and, at an analogous peak above the horizon you’ll discover one other big of the photo voltaic system – Saturn. By mid-July, Saturn and Jupiter straddle the southern meridian at native midnight, as depicted within the animation above.

Shining at magnitude +0.1, Saturn is twelve occasions fainter than it’s bigger planetary sibling to the suitable, however the ringed planet remains to be brighter than the rest within the constellation of Sagittarius by which it presently resides. In frequent with Jupiter, Saturn at present occupies a area of the ecliptic that struggles to realize a peak altitude of 14 levels within the south for observers within the coronary heart of the UK, however it’s nonetheless worthy of a glance by means of any sized telescope.

A pc simulation of Saturn’s look at 20:37 UT (9:37pm BST) on Tuesday, 9 July 2019 – the planet’s opposition day and the moment that it’s closest to Earth for 2019 at a distance of 9.03 astronomical items (1,351 million kilometres). Saturn is greatest considered from the UK round 1am in early July, discovered barely a span-and-a-half of a fist at arm’s size above the southern horizon. Nevertheless, even at such a low altitude, on nights of regular seeing the planet’s wonderful rings – with the planet’s north pole at present tilted by 24 levels in the direction of our line of sight – are wonderful to behold in any telescope. What’s the smallest telescope in which you’ll understand the Cassini Division, the skinny black line between the planet’s A & B rings? AN graphic by Ade Ashford/Stellarium.

Observing Saturn
With a declination of -22 levels, Saturn is at present greatest seen from the Southern Hemisphere. As considered from Australia, for instance, the ringed planet is nearly overhead when on the meridian. Saturn’s low altitude from the British Isles signifies that getting clear views will likely be difficult in July 2019, however there are methods that you would be able to enhance your possibilities.

All the time give your telescope ample time to chill right down to nighttime temperatures by uncapping the lens or mirror (with the tube horizontal to keep away from dew deciding on the optics) an hour earlier than making observations. Additionally, observe from a grassy location wherever doable, avoiding concrete or asphalt that retains warmth after darkish. And don’t view Saturn over rooftops the place turbulent heat air currents rise.

Attempt to view Saturn inside an hour or so of the time it transits (see our interactive Almanac for native occasions) in order that it’s as excessive as doable above your horizon. Calm, barely misty nights when a high-pressure system sits above us usually present the steadiest planetary views.

Nevertheless, even in effective UK seeing, each Jupiter and Saturn will show atmospheric dispersion (the place the higher and decrease limbs of the planet could seem to have prismatic blue and purple fringing, respectively) attributable to our ambiance performing like a weak lens. You should buy atmospheric dispersion filters to assist counteract this, or just use a yellow/orange filter to minimize the colored fringes.

The facet of Saturn and the orbits of its brightest moons Titan and Rhea round opposition in July 2019. Observers with Newtonian/Dobsonian telescopes ought to rotate this picture by means of 180° to match their eyepiece view, whereas customers of refractors and catadioptrics (Schmidt- and Maksutov-Cassegrains) with a star diagonal must mirror this graphic left-right to copy what they see by means of the eyepiece. AN graphic: Ade Ashford.

Saturn’s vivid moons
The biggest Saturnian moon, 3,200-wile-wide Titan, orbits its father or mother planet each 16 days and is straightforward to identify in telescopes of 5-cm (2-inch) aperture or bigger because it shines at magnitude +8.5. Titan is at elongation, 4¼ ring diameters east of Saturn, on Three and 19 July. Titan could be discovered the identical distance west of the planet on 11 and 27 July.

Saturn’s second-largest moon Rhea with a 4½-day orbit can be simple to identify at magnitude +10. Elongations two ring diameters east of Saturn happen on 2, 11, 20 and 29 July. Rhea could be seen the identical distance west of Saturn on 4, 13, 22 and 31 July.

Astronomy & Space

See the waning Moon meet Jupiter and Saturn at daybreak, 27–29 March – Astronomy Now

March 26, 2019 • By

Observers within the British Isles and Western Europe wishing to see the waning Moon meet each Jupiter and Saturn ought to search unobstructed view of the horizon from southeast by south some 45 minutes earlier than dawn from 27–29 March 2019. The Moon occults Saturn as seen from South Africa round nautical daybreak on Friday, 29 March. AN animation by Ade Ashford.

Now that the waning Moon is rising after midnight, deep-sky observers within the UK and Western Europe can rejoice on the return of darkish night skies for looking down all kinds of extragalactic deep-sky objects (some described right here). For lunar and planetary lovers, nevertheless, the one naked-eye planet of the night sky is distant and tiny Mars within the constellation of Taurus. However when you’re ready to be an early riser, the daybreak sky is the place you’ll discover two of the photo voltaic system’s heavyweights, Jupiter and Saturn.

Jupiter, the biggest planet, at present lies in Ophiuchus, the unofficial 13th zodiacal constellation. Presently shining at magnitude -2.2 and due to this fact the brightest object within the daybreak sky apart from the Moon, Jupiter could be discovered low within the southern sky on the onset of civil twilight some 35 minutes earlier than dawn within the UK.

On the morning of Wednesday, 27 March round 5am GMT you will discover Jupiter simply 1½ levels to the decrease proper of the 21-day-old waning gibbous Moon. Therefore the Moon and planet will simply slot in the identical discipline of view of binoculars and telescopes magnifying 30× or much less. In increased magnification devices you’ll see that Jupiter seems to have solely two Galilean moons at the moment – Callisto to the east and Ganymede to the appropriate. (Io is behind Jupiter and Europa is eclipsed by the planet’s shadow).

Two mornings later, it’s magnitude +0.6 Saturn’s flip to get considerably nearer to the waning Moon. If you happen to look very low within the south-southeast at 5am GMT on Friday, 29 March you possibly can see the 23-day-old lunar crescent simply two Moon widths beneath the ringed planet. Saturn’s largest and brightest moon, magnitude +9 Titan, occurs to be near biggest elongation this explicit morning, some 4⅓ ring diameters east of its father or mother planet.

As seen from extra southerly latitudes, particularly South Africa, the Moon truly occults (passes in entrance of) Saturn round nautical daybreak on Friday, 29 March.

Astronomy & Space

See the outdated Moon between Venus and Saturn at daybreak on 2 March – Astronomy Now

March 2, 2019 • By
Observers in Western Europe ought to search a location providing a degree and unobstructed southeast view at civil daybreak (some 36 minutes earlier than dawn within the UK) on 2 March 2019 to have an opportunity of seeing the 25-day-old waning crescent Moon between planets Venus and Saturn near the horizon in vivid twilight with the unaided eye. The Moon’s obvious dimension is enlarged for readability on this illustration. AN graphic by Ade Ashford.

Hopefully, a few of you might have taken benefit of unusually clear late winter skies at nightfall to catch a glimpse of Mercury presently at its finest. My former article illustrates how the steeply inclined angle of the ecliptic to the western horizon at sundown drastically improves your probabilities of viewing the innermost planet from the UK and Western Europe at current.

Sadly, nonetheless, the identical can’t be mentioned of planets of the daybreak sky for skywatchers residing in northern temperate latitudes the place the converse is presently true: the morning ecliptic has a really shallow inclination to the east in vivid twilight, so any planets near the Solar appear to hug the southeastern horizon.

So, should you want to catch a glimpse of the outdated waning crescent Moon nestled between conspicuous Venus and considerably extra subdued Saturn within the rising twilight of Saturday, 2 March you want to select your viewing location and time rigorously. Attempt too early then the sky will probably be darker, however the Moon and planets will probably be too near the southeast horizon. Depart it too late then the Moon and planets will probably be increased, however in a brighter sky and Saturn is probably not seen to the unaided eye.

The optimum time to search for the photo voltaic system trio is near civil daybreak, which is presently 36 minutes earlier than dawn within the coronary heart of the British Isles on 2 March. You should definitely seek the advice of our interactive on-line Almanac to seek out out when civil twilight begins at your location by deciding on the closest metropolis to you. (Click on right here should you’d prefer to learn our former information to utilizing the Almanac.)

In the event you do handle to catch a glimpse of Venus, the 25-day-old Moon and Saturn on Saturday morning, ponder the truth that magnitude -4.1 Venus lies 161 million kilometres from Earth, some 4 hundred occasions farther away than the slim lunar crescent in nearly the identical line of sight. Magnitude +0.6 Saturn is seventy-five occasions fainter than its dazzling planetary sibling, however at 1,588 million kilometres distant it’s practically ten occasions farther away from us than Venus.