Gaze live upon Saturn, as it looks better than it has for years, right here on Slooh. Relax and listen to esteemed planetary scientist Jonathan Lunine, as he discusses the search for life on Saturn’s moon Titan!
The planet Saturn reaches opposition on May 22, 2015, rising as the Sun sets and making its closest approach to Earth this year. The planet reaches magnitude 0.0, as bright as it’s been in about eight years, and drifts across the border of the constellations Scorpius and Libra in the southeastern sky. The rings of the planet are tilted dramatically at an angle of 24º from edge-on, which is partly why the planet appears so bright, so this will be an excellent season for imaging the ringed planet with Slooh telescopes.
Along with the intricate systems of rings around Saturn, stargazers can see up to eight of Saturn’s 62 moons in amateur telescopes. The brightest and biggest is Titan, a moon which appears as a small orange disk at high magnification. The color of this fascinating moon comes from clouds of frozen organic smog in the thick atmosphere. Because the major moons of Saturn lie in the same plane as the rings, they will appear from our point of view slightly above or below the planet’s disk as they move through their orbits.