Astronomers are excited about the prospects of a spectacular view of Saturn in all its ringed glory on Saturday. The planet will be visible all through the night of Saturday (Feb 10) and will disappear only by sunrise the next day.
As the sun sets, Saturn will rise in full glory taking up position diametrically opposite to the sun in relation to the Earth. Astronomers term this phenomenon as ‘Opposition.’
“This is an good time to observe this celestial event,” Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Centre executive director P Iyamperumal said in Chennai on Thursday. In this position, Saturn would be fully illuminated by the Sun and appear larger and brighter. Iyamperumal said, “At its most distant point, the distance between the cloud-covered planet and the Earth will be 157 crore km.”
The planet will move to a point 180 degrees away from the Sun— diametrically opposite the Sun, as viewed from the Earth. It is in this configuration that Saturn makes its closest advance to the Earth. What will it look like?
Weather permitting and through telescopes, one can view it as a golden ball shining amid its rings. “We can also spot the moon Titan and the Cassini Division (large gap between the rings),” he said.
Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Centre is making arrangements for its public view on February 10 between 7.30 pm to 10 pm.
The celestial phenomenon occuring once in 378 days, is visible due to the 14-degree tilt of the rings.