One of these unique astronomical events is coming up soon: an alignment of Earth, Saturn, and the Sun--- it is known as Saturn's "opposition." While it won't provide us access to the Titan realm, it will give stargazers the finest perspective of the Solar System's most gorgeous planet.
NASA identified early Monday morning as an excellent viewing opportunity in its daily skywatching guide. "Saturn is directly opposite the sun from Earth on this date. Around the time of opposition, it's visible all night, reaching its highest point around midnight," the space agency said.
Jupiter, the gas giant, will also join in on the opposition fun this month, with its big date planned for August 19. It will be visible all night, similar to Saturn, and will peak about midnight.
According to the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics, the yearly opposition usually implies a planet appears brighter than normal. But considering how far away Jupiter and especially Saturn orbit, the change will be hardly discernible.
Saturn Opposition 2021: August 1 and 2
EarthSky said the planet Saturn will be visible from Earth on August 1 and 2.
For this occasion, people who have been stargazing are usually aware that they are always after the giant planet's bright rings.
If you're viewing from the West Coast, get your equipment ready before 11 p.m. PT so you can get everything prepared before you watch. This year's Saturn opposition will take place on August 2 at 2 a.m. ET for those on the East Coast.
The same EarthSky report claimed that Saturn would become the brightest body visible above the sky.
This is also the moment when the sun, along with Venus, has finished setting. As a result, pay attention to Jupiter's west direction, as here is where Saturn may be seen.
How to Watch Saturn Opposition This Year
The Farmer's Almanac said stargazers need a telescope capable of observing Saturn's luminous rings.
Haley Brink, a senior meteorologist, said a bright sky would be visible from Sunday night to Monday morning for residents of various regions of California as well as the Midwest.
"A swath of cloudy skies will exist across the Northwest into the Rockies, across many southern states and into the Northeast," the senior meteorologist told CNN.
Saturn isn't even near to Earth's size. NASA said it would take nine piles of Earth to match its full size. The ringed planet's massive size is somewhat of a prize for astronomers and space enthusiasts.
Jupiter Opposition 2021: When to Watch
Jupiter, according to NPR, is also receiving some better images. Around August 19, the biggest planet in the solar system will approach opposition.
Sarah Burcher, public program manager at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., said in the same NPR report that Jupiter opposition will be more thrilling. The planet's surface, Burcher explained, is "much more visually dynamic than Saturn." She added that these traits could become more evident as it gets closer to Earth.
If you don't have your own telescope - or if the one you do have is on the small side of astronomical gear - it's worth looking for one through a local astronomy organization.
Larger telescopes can also help distinguish cloud bands on Saturn's surface or the striking orange hue of Titan, according to Burcher. Stargazers may also see Saturn's other moons, such as Enceladus, Rhea, or Dione, which will appear as points of light, similar to stars, within a few ring-widths of the planet.
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