There are five planets all together, which are available to the naked eye.
One of them is Saturn (and Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter).
Saturn was the last of the planets that was discovered during prehistoric times.
Saturn is clearly visible in the night sky as a bright, yellowish star. This brightness of Saturn varies in magnitude from +1 and 0. It takes approximately 29 and one half years to make a complete orbit around the sun. This is considerably longer than the earth’s orbit, which only takes about one year to orbit around the sun.
Depending upon where Saturn is in the sky you will be able to clearly see this planet. Usually Saturn is seen best with a large pair of binocular or a telescope, with a magnification of at least 20X.
It is also wise to have a constellation guide nearby, so that you can use the stars as a reference point in relation to the planet Saturn. Constellation guides will help you to easier find this planet in the sky at any given time.
Best time to see Saturn:
The best time to see Saturn is when it appears to be opposite of the sun in the sky. This is what is called the opposition, and is a time when the planet of Saturn is at an elongation of 180 degrees.
Therefore, on January 13, 2005 the most recent opposition of Saturn has occurred. This is when Saturn will have appeared at its brightest until the year 2031.
Even if you have missed seeing Saturn at its brightest this past time around, there is no need to worry. Many people have managed to still find a clear view of this huge formation.
If you are out on a cloudless night you will usually have a chance to see it during these times. It may not be as bright, but you will still be able to enjoy a very good view of this planet.
Facts about Saturn:
You may want to know other facts about Saturn, which could possibly pique your interest in studying this planet when you have a chance. For instance, it may interest you to know that Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun, and that Saturn is the second largest planet after Jupiter.
Saturn is also one of the four planets that is called a gas giant. This means that the entire planet is made up mostly of various gases. This planet was named after the Roman god Saturn. You may also want to know that further studies have been done on the entire planet of Saturn, and studies have been also done on the forever-fascinating rings, which surround this planet.
The first visitation of Saturn was by way of Pioneer 11. This was a spacecraft that was sent to Saturn in September of 1979. Pioneer 11 flew within 20,000 km of the planet’s cloud tops. In addition, various low-resolution photos were taken, which allowed space observers to have a general idea of what this planet looks like. The Pioneer 11 spacecraft also helps researchers have a view of Saturn’s moons.
Better photos needed to be taken, however, if observers were to help see the surface details of this planet.
However, while the Pioneer 11 was in space it was able to pick up new information pertaining to Saturn’s rings.
One very important discovery of Saturn was that of the thin F-ring. Another notable discovery was that dark gaps in the rings of Saturn are bright, when viewed towards the Sun. Another way to describe this phenomenon is that the gaps in Saturn’s rings are not just void spaces.
This was one of the most significant findings of this study, and of what the Pioneer 11 has detected. This piece of spacecraft also has measured the temperature of Titan, which is the largest of Saturn’s moons.
In November 1980 another piece of spacecraft was launched to help study Saturn. This is the date that Voyager 1 probe was sent out, and this is when the first high-resolution photos were taken of this planet. Likewise, better pictures of the rings, as well as other satellites were taken.
The photographs, which were taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft, allowed space observers view more detailed photos of the surface of Saturn’s moons. In addition, this spacecraft helped increase human knowledge of the composition of Titan.
One of the most important discoveries of Titan was that researchers finally knew for sure that its atmosphere was impenetrable in visible wavelengths. Further discoveries were made as a result of Voyager 1 (which at one point changed course a bit), and also with Voyager 2, which was launched nearly a year later.
In 1981, even more close-up images of Saturn’s moons were shot. These helps provide further evidence of the changes in Saturn’s atmospheres and rings. Unfortunately, some of the images that were taken were lost, as the spacecraft headed towards Uranus, which was called by Saturn’s gravitational pull.
Both Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have discovered various new satellites, which orbit near or within the planet’s rings at the time. In addition, these vessels have also discovered the Maxwell and Keeler gaps of Saturn.