Friday, February 22, 2008

Saturn closest to Earth on Feb 24

Get ready for a weekend packed with celestial activities as sky gazers can watch for Saturn being bright and close to Earth on Sunday.

Look with naked eyes for the brightest object in the eastern skies one hour after sunset on February 24 and you will find Saturn glowing on the horizon. Best observation would be between 10 PM and 2 AM. This celestial positioning would not be seen again till 2015.

The view has become possible as Saturn reaches opposition, a position when Sun is on one side of the Earth and Saturn on the opposite side. The result is that the object is fully illuminated by the Sun and appears disk-like.
Saturn will reach the position on February 24. This means it is at its closest and brightest. This also means it will rise at sunset and set at dawn, he said.

The phenomenon would be thrilling for telescopic observers.

Saturn remains an evening object until it is at conjunction with the Sun on September 4. It will be too close to the Sun for observing from about the beginning of August. After conjunction Saturn will become visible in the morning sky from early October.

Saturn oppositions occur every one year and two weeks (378.1 days), or 29 times every 30 years. Last opposition occurred on February 10, 2007 and the next one will happen on March 9, 2009.

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