View Full Version : Saturn 2010

2010-Feb-15, 03:53 AM
Saturn has reentered our evening skies in the constellation Virgo, having risen this Valentine’s evening at 20:24 CST here in Chicagoland and about four minutes earlier each night thereafter. This after passing western quadrature (90° from Sun) on 2009 DEC 25, and commencing apparent retrograde motion on 2010 JAN 13.

Saturn will achieve opposition from the Sun in ecliptical longitude on MAR 21 along with its closest approach to Earth of this apparition at 8.50380 AU. On that date the tilt of its ring plane will be only 3.2° due to Earth’s recent passage through that plane on 2009 SEP 04. The tilt will decrease a bit while the planet remains in apparent retrograde motion. The modest tilt makes this one of the poorer apparitions for ring watchers. At least oppositions are slowly moving into a warmer time of the year for observers north of the tropics. However, that also means its declination will soon begin dipping into the southern celestial hemisphere where it will remain until 2026.

Apparent direct motion will resume on 2010 MAY 30, and eastern quadrature will be reached on JUN 19. Eventually Saturn will move to conjunction behind the Sun on SEP 30.

I’ve created several graphics related to Saturn and the changes in the tilt of its rings. They can be seen by clicking: http://www.curtrenz.com/astronomical and then going to the page for superior planets.

Photos and descriptions of Saturn and its rings would be welcome additions to this thread.

2010-Feb-15, 09:55 AM
Thank you Mr Renz, for your excellent observations and graphics.