Apr 27 (): Saturn will be very close to Earth on April 28 and can be seen directly opposite to Sun. Earth will be exactly in between Saturn and the sun, which is called ‘Saturn opposition’. On this day, Saturn will be closest to Earth in the whole year.
Last time, ‘Saturn opposition’ was seen on April 15, 2012 and the next close encounter will be on May 10, 2014. At present, Saturn is seen at a magnitude of 0.9 and will remain so till June 9.
On April 28, Saturn will rise at sunset directly opposite to the Sun, be visible all night, and set at sunrise on 29 in the west.
Since the orbit of Saturn around the sun is much larger than Earth and the movement of Saturn is also much slower than the Earth (Saturn moves in orbit at 9.69 km per second in contrast to Earth’s 29.78 km per second), Saturn takes about 29.5 Earth years to complete one revolution. As a result, for every 378 days, the Sun, the Earth, and Saturn are perfectly aligned.
Though this phenomenon occurs every year, 2013’s Saturn opposition has an extra special look because this will be the closest Earth-Saturn encounter until 2023.
During April 28 Saturn opposition, Saturn will be at a distance of about 132.2 crore km only away from Earth as compared to about 165 crore km at its farthest. On April 28 at 1.57 pm, the distance between the two planets will be 132.2 crore km.
Furthermore, during this opposition, the rings of Saturn will be tilted 18 degrees making it easier to see than if it was edge-on.
To the naked eye, Saturn at opposition is about twice as bright as a first-magnitude star. Sky watchers have started looking on from April 25-26, when the full Moon passes Saturn only a few degrees away.
Saturn will appear like a star, but without a twinkle. By viewing through a telescope, its magnificent rings can also be seen.