Spotting Saturn

Saturn as it appears through a telescope
Saturn as it appears through a telescope

Of all the sights visible in a telescope, there is none so breathtaking as the planet Saturn. Simply put, it is magnificent. Saturn is surrounded by a series of icy rings that circle the planet, making it look like a lolo ball. Unfortunately a telescope is needed to see the rings. Even a small telescope of decent quality will do, and now is the perfect time to see the planet.

As Earth and Saturn orbit the sun, the angle of Saturn’s rings relative to the Earth changes. Back in 2009  the rings were edge on and so we’re not visible. Since then, the angle has been changing and the view of the rings improving and today they are perfect for viewing.

At the moment (mid June) Saturn rises in the south east at around 10 pm and is best placed for viewing at half one in the morning when it can be found directly south, 15 degrees above the horizon. You will know you are on the right track if you look to the right of it, and see a distinctly red star. This star is called Antares and is in the constellation Scorpius. Saturn is definitely worth observing if you have a telescope, because your first view of the planet is a wow moment that will stay with you forever. Even without a telescope, it’s worthwhile tracking it down. With larger telescopes the inky blackness of the gaps between the rings is visible and adds to the spectacle.

Everyone should see Saturn at least once through a telescope and with a number of free astronomy or planetarium apps available to track it down, it’s easier to do so than ever before.