Observing

See ringed planet Saturn at its best in late June

13 June 2018 Ade Ashford

While excitement among planetary observers is growing for the best views of Mars for 15 years (Martian dust storms permitting) in late July, there’s still one prior planetary treat: the opposition of Saturn on 27 June, which coincides with a close lunar conjunction. We show you what to look for in and around the Saturnian system.

Observing

Let Saturn be your guide to finding asteroid Vesta at its brightest

8 June 2018 Ade Ashford

Many of you may have tracked down an asteroid with binoculars or a telescope, but have you ever seen one with the naked eye? If not, then June presents you with an opportunity to see the brightest, 1 Vesta, at a close opposition. What’s more, ringed planet Saturn lies close by to act as a convenient guide.

Picture This

The gift that goes on giving – Cassini at Saturn

16 May 2018 Astronomy Now

Saturn’s rings cast sharp shadows across the planet’s northern hemisphere in a view captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft in 2007 at a distance of about 1 million miles, using red, green and blue filters to produce a natural-colour view.

Observing

See the Moon get close to Saturn and Mars in the early morning sky

4 May 2018 Ade Ashford

Although Jupiter close to opposition may be stealing the other naked-eye planets’ thunder, there’s lots more to see if you’re an early riser on the weekend of 5–6 May. About an hour before sunrise finds Mars and Saturn less than the span of an outstretched hand at arm’s length apart in the UK southern sky, with the waning gibbous Moon acting as a convenient guide to each planet on successive mornings.

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Cassini’s view of Saturn’s rings still dazzling

1 May 2018 Astronomy Now

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft plunged into the atmosphere of Saturn in 2017, concluding a hugely successful mission to explore the planet, its rings and icy moons. The spacecraft’s close-up images of Saturn’s ring system likely will remain unmatched for decades to come.

News

Saturn’s clouds run deep, rings may rain organics

6 April 2018 Stephen Clark

Saturn’s clouds have roots deeper inside the planet’s atmosphere than scientists previously thought, and Saturn’s rings — now believed to have formed in the last 200 million years — appear to be raining organic molecules down on the planet, according to observations made by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft last year in the final weeks of its mission.

Picture This

Taking a shine to Enceladus

3 April 2018 Astronomy Now

Saturn’s rings cast shadows on the planet’s cloud tops, providing a perfect backdrop for the brilliant sphere of the moon Enceladus in this image taken by NASA’s Cassini probe.

Observing

See the Red Planet, Saturn and Moon get close in the dawn sky

26 March 2018 Ade Ashford

Early risers will already be aware that there’s currently a lot of planetary activity in the morning sky, but at dawn in Western Europe on Monday, 2 April, Mars and Saturn will be just 1¼ degrees apart and seen in the same field of view of telescopes at 30x magnification. The waning Moon is close by on the mornings of 7 & 8 April too.