Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex

Observing Saturn’s Rings – A Tip

My thanks to Prof. Otta Wenskus for an interesting tip for observing Saturn:

This has been a lousy summer for stargazing, though great for learning
lots about clouds, so I am quite happy, all things considered. But you
might like to make the most of clear, dark autumn skies:

This is still a good time to observe the rings of Saturn. Not only is
Saturn in opposition right now, but it is still summer there.

No, of course this is not about the weather on Saturn. But as you know our
seasons depend on the tilt of Earth’s axis, and the same goes for
Saturn. The best times for seeing the rings are the solstices when
Saturn’s axis is either tilted directly towards or away from the sun, so
you can see the space between the rings and the planet even with a not
particularly strong telescope, the worst the equinoxes. When the rings
are in the same plane as Earth’s ecliptic they can only be seen (as a
thin bar) by the strongest telescopes on Earth.

The last summer solstice (Saturn’s, of course) was in our summer of 2018 but conditions will be
pretty decent for some time to come and abysmal around 2025/26.

So…get together with telescope-owning friends (if you do not own one
yourself) and enjoy!

You might also enjoy:

How to Navigate Using Planets

How to Find Your Way with Stars

Mabiniogion and the Stars