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milkman
2009-May-22, 02:33 PM
How much longer until saturn's rings are completly 'flat' viewed from earth and how long until are at their most visible again?

Fiery Phoenix
2009-May-22, 02:40 PM
Saturn's rings are turned edge-on to our line of sight every 15 years or so. The whole phenomena takes only about a year for the rings to be clearly visible again.

Centaur
2009-May-23, 06:26 AM
How much longer until saturn's rings are completly 'flat' viewed from earth and how long until are at their most visible again?

As Saturn orbits the Sun we view its rings from changing perspectives. The rings remain virtually parallel to an invariant plane, but they appear to wobble due to the changing direction from which we view them. The entire wobble cycle matches Saturnís orbital period of 29.5 years, although there is an annual sub-cycle due to the Earthís movement. The apparent tilt achieved a maximum of 27.0į on 2003 APR 07. That will reach zero when we pass through the ring plane on 2009 SEP 04, although the Sun will pass through the plane a little earlier on AUG 10.

Between the dates of the Sunís and the Earthís passages through the ring plane, we will be viewing the unlit side of the rings thus making them virtually invisible. Even though the rings would normally return to visibility after we pass through the ring plane, that event will occur so close to conjunction that Saturn will be hard to detect. That will be especially true for northern hemisphere observers due to the celestial geometry near the time of the autumnal equinox.

On my website is a graphic Iíve created to illustrate the appearance of Saturn and its rings between now and September. It can be seen by clicking: http://www.curtrenz.com/astronomical.html

Meanwhile, below is my graphic showing how the rings appear at each opposition from 1995 to 2025.


http://www.curtrenz.com/Rings.JPG

astromark
2009-May-24, 09:29 AM
With due credit to"Sky and Telescope". They publish a excellent chart of planet rise and set times. As Saturn goes behind the sun from our point of view we miss the best view of the rings edge on... When Saturn re emerges as a morning planet it will take some six months to widen the view angle. To the Saturn we expect to see. A la, rings.