Space-gazers and fans of the ringed planet Saturn should keep their eyes upward this weekend, as the planet reaches its highest point above the horizon in its opposition phase. Visible to the naked eye – but all the better with a telescope, since you’ll then be able to see its distinctive rings – Saturn will be most clearly visible late on Saturday or in the early hours of Sunday, and though often visible at other times, will be both brighter and bigger than it usually appears.
That extra degree of clarity is because the planet will be at its closest to Earth as well as at its opposition point: the exact opposite from where the sun is positioned. Saturn will be visible all through the night, with a steady glow, though it will take some tools of the astronomy trade if you want to make out more than that.
For instance, Space suggests, magnification of at least 25 power will show more details of Saturn, with the rings making it appear oval in shape rather than circular as the naked eye might see it. Quadruple that magnification and more of the planet’s details will be picked out, including several of its 62 moons.
The best point to see Saturn is late evening, when the planet reaches its highest point. To actually find it, the LA Times suggests, look for the bright star Arcturus – off along the “handle” of the Big Dipper, away from the bowl – and then to the right, where the star Spica is. Saturn is below and left of that.
If that all sounds complicated, then NASA’s video, below, should give more of an indication as to where Saturn will be in the night sky, as well as what you might expect to see with the naked eye and various types of telescope. Saturn will be at its best on April 28, the space agency suggests.