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See ringed planet Saturn at its best in late June

13 Jun 2018, 12:38 UTC
See ringed planet Saturn at its best in late June
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This looping animation depicts a south-southeast aspect as seen from the heart of the UK at 1am BST from 28 June to 1 July 2018. For scale, the view is about 80 degrees wide, or four times the span of an outstretched hand at arm’s length. Note that the Moon’s size is enlarged for clarity. AN animation by Ade Ashford.On Wednesday, 27 June 2018, Saturn reaches opposition in the constellation Sagittarius and Earth makes its closest approach to the planet at 17:03 UT (6:03pm BST) that evening, at a distance of 9.048816 astronomical units, or 1,354 million kilometres (841 million miles). As oppositions go this is not particularly close, since Saturn was at aphelion – its farthest point from the Sun in its 29½-year-long orbit – in April of this year. Also, with a southerly declination exceeding 22 degrees, the planet will not rise any higher than 14 degrees in the southern sky of the central British Isles – that’s about one-and-a-half spans of a fist held at arm’s length.
However, despite Saturn’s distance and low altitude as viewed from the UK, the planet’s oblate globe shines at magnitude zero and spans a respectable 18.4 arcseconds across the equator. This ...

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