Saturn 2023: Shining Brightest and Closest at Opposition on August 26-27

As soon as the evening of August 26, 2023, arrives, look up towards the bright golden Saturn shining just above the southeastern horizon. Saturn’s opposition, when we fly between Saturn and the Sun, occurs at 8 UT (3 AM CDT) on August 27. So, this is now a wonderful spot to see, rising in the east in the evening, as observed from all around the world. In opposition, Saturn is in the dim constellation Aquarius, the water bearer. Besides, if you have a dark sky, you can spot the faint but beautiful star cluster Capricornus, the sea goat, in the southeastern part of the sky. It resembles the head of an arrow. In reality, you can watch their journey across the sky through the course of the night, following the same path the Sun takes during the day. Additionally, the bright star Fomalhaut is also nearby. John Gardiner Gas/ArthSky charts.

On August 26-27, 2023, Earth passes between the Sun and Saturn, placing the ringed planet in opposition – directly opposite the Sun in our sky.

Saturn 2023: Shining Brightest and Closest at Opposition on August 26-27

Opposition of Saturn

When and where to see in 2023: Around August 26-27, Saturn rises in the east just before sunset and remains visible throughout the night. After that, for the rest of 2023, Saturn will be visible in the evening sky. It will ultimately disappear into the Sun’s glare around mid-February 2024.

Date and time of opposition: August 27, 2023, at 8 UT (3 AM CDT).

Brightness during opposition: During opposition, the ringed planet shines at its brightest in 2023, with an apparent magnitude of 0.4.

Proximity to Earth during opposition: For the 2023 opposition, Saturn draws remarkably near to our planet, measuring just 73 light minutes away (equivalent to approximately 8.8 astronomical units).

Constellation in opposition: Aquarius, the water bearer.

The apparent size of the disk in opposition: Saturn’s disk appears largest during opposition. At its largest, Saturn will measure 19 arc seconds.

The tilt of rings in opposition: The rings of Saturn are tilted about 8.1 degrees from edge-on to Earth in opposition. They will be spread out to about 44.2 arc seconds.

Note: Opposition showcases an outer planet at its best viewing time of the year. While you might not see Saturn’s rings through binoculars, it will appear as a bright, egg-shaped disk through a telescope. Any small telescope will reveal the rings.

Saturn 2023: Shining Brightest and Closest at Opposition on August 26-27

How often is Saturn in opposition?

In reality, Saturn comes into opposition roughly every Earth year. One orbit around the Sun takes Saturn about 29.4 Earth years. Hence, it takes a bit of travel around its orbit for us to catch up with Saturn and then pass by it. Thus, Saturn’s opposition occurs approximately 378 days apart, and opposition occurs about two weeks later each year.

2022 Saturn opposition: August 14

2023 Saturn opposition: August 27

2024 Saturn opposition: September 8

2025 Saturn opposition: September 25

 Saturn’s Events in early 2022 and 2023

February 16, 2023, Saturn aligns closely with the Sun in a cosmic rendezvous

June 17, 2023: Saturn turns retrograde

August 27, 2023: Saturn in opposition

November 4, 2023: Saturn’s retrograde motion ends

Saturn – an Enchanting Realm Adorned with Rings and Moons

Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun. In ancient times, people viewed it as a shining “star” that wandered among the fixed stars: a wanderer. This is because, in the 17th century, astronomers had not yet begun to use telescopes when they first spotted its rings.

Then, in the 1950s, astronomers revealed Saturn’s three rings. But in the latter half of the 20th century, space probes provided a much more detailed view. In fact, they uncovered that Saturn is surrounded by thousands of thin, icy pieces that make up its rings. Also, Saturn has at least 83 moons with confirmed orbits, although only 63 have been named, and another 20 moons await confirmation. Additionally, only 13 of them have a diameter larger than 30 miles (about 50 kilometers).

Undoubtedly, Saturn is truly a fascinating world of rings and moons. Clearly, with even a small telescope, it’s a favorite celestial object for everyone interested in astronomy. Therefore, if you happen to have a chance to attend a public stargazing event this month, seize the opportunity and join in!

(Note: Some of the astronomical details and events mentioned might be subject to change based on updates and observations beyond the knowledge cutoff date of September 2021.)

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