Saturn lovers, listen up! This weekend is your best chance to view the most gorgeous planet in our solar system for all of 2014, and you don’t want to miss it.
On Saturday Saturn will be in opposition, which means it will be directly opposite the sun from the perspective of Earth. The ringed planet will rise into view just as the sun sets and will dip beneath the horizon just as the sun rises.
At the same time, Saturn will be closer to the Earth than any other time in 2014, so it will look bigger and brighter, and its rings will be visible in heightened detail compared to the rest of the year.
Saturn will be shining brightly in the night sky near the constellation Libra, but you will need a telescope to make out the planet’s iconic rings.
According to Alan MacRobert of Sky and Telescope Magazine, a telescope with an aperture just 2.6 inches wide should let you see the rings quite nicely, as well as Saturn’s giant moon Titan. Larger telescopes will reveal more detail in the rings, and allow you to see more of the planet’s many moons.
If you live in Los Angeles, and you don’t have your own telescope, consider heading over to the Griffith Observatory, where you can look through public telescopes on the lawn for free until 10 p.m. PDT.
If you prefer to do your sky watching on the computer, the astronomy website Slooh.com will live stream a view of Saturn from its telescopes in the Canary Islands beginning at 6:30 p.m. PDT.
Happy Saturn watching!