The Hubble Space Telescope has captured stunning new views of Mars and Saturn in June and July. Hubble captured Mars on 18 July when the red planet was at a distance of 59.4 million kilometres (36.9 million miles) from Earth. The image clearly shows the on-going global dust storm that is obscuring the surface. Mars reaches opposition, lined up with Earth and the Sun, on July 27 and will reach its point of closest approach to Earth on July 31, providing the best view of the red planet since 2003. Saturn was imaged on June 6 when the ringed world was about 2.2 billion kilometres (1.4 billion miles) from Earth. Saturn reached opposition on 27 June.
Skywatchers in the UK looking to the south-southwest at dusk on Monday, 17 September can see the waxing gibbous Moon just 1¾ degrees to the upper left of Saturn, the pair fitting comfortably in the same field of view of binoculars and small telescopes magnifying 25× or less. This is also a good night for spotting Titan, Saturn’s largest and brightest moon.
Several recent news stories have reported that a mysterious anomaly in the orbit of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft around Saturn could potentially be explained by the gravitational tug of theorised Planet 9, existing far beyond the orbit of Neptune in our solar system. However, NASA cannot find any unexplained deviations in the spacecraft’s orbit.