The magnificent ringed planet Saturn, the jewel in the Solar System’s crown, comes to opposition on the night of 20/21 July. At around this time, the ringed wonder offers its best observing circumstances for 2020, as it’s observable all night. Saturn comes to opposition about every 378 days, so opposition occurs about two weeks later every year.
Saturn, the ringed-wonder, imaged on 19 April 2020. The rings are still well open and tilted toward us by an angle of 21.6 degrees. The planet’s north pole is on show. Image: Damian Peach/Chilescope team.
If quizzed, most astronomers rate Saturn as the most alluring of all the planets through the eyepiece, as in our Solar System its’ unique for hosting a marvellous system of rings that are easily seen through even a small telescope. Mars, the red planet, may be the most tantalising planet, making observers wait patiently before giving up its secrets, and Jupiter the most observationally rewarding on a regular basis, but when you see Saturn float into view through a high-powered eyepiece of a moderate- to large-aperture telescope, you’ll swear nothing comes close to matching the thrill.
The ringed-wonder shines at magnitude +0.1, brighter than all of the stars ...