Look up, stargazers! Saturn will shine brightly in the sky Sunday evening.
Saturn will be visible from dusk until dawn as the earth flies between the ringed planet and the sun.
While it has been shining in the night sky for most of April and will continue through May, Saturn will shine brightly Sunday evening, according to EarthSky.org . Astronomers say it should be most vivid around midnight.
Since Saturn rises in the east at sunset and sets in the west at sunrise, it will be perfectly placed for viewing all evening. The event, which is known to astronomers as “opposition,” brings the planet closest it will be to Earth in 2013, which is part of the reason it will shine so brightly.
So, how can you find Saturn in the sky? The first key is finding Spica in the constellation Virgo. In order to do this, the people at Earth Sky suggest using a phrase familiar to stargazers: “Follow the arc to Arcturus and drive a spike to Spica.” Need a little help translating that? Alright. First, locate the Big Dipper in the northeastern sky. Follow the curve in its handle until you come to the orange star Arcturus in the constellation Bootes. Extend that line until you see the star Spica.
Differentiating between Spica and Saturn is easy. Saturn is golden and shines steadily, while Spica is blue-white and “twinkles.” Saturn will also be lower in the sky.
Stargazers using telescopes will be able to see the planet’s rings around midnight when it is high in the sky where Earth’s atmosphere thins out.
Below are additional tips from EarthSky to help you find Saturn :
Tip for finding Saturn #1: Use the Big Dipper and the star Spica. Spica – the brightest star in the constellation Virgo – is your best bet for recognizing Saturn in 2013. The planet Saturn shines below the star Spica in the evening sky, and the two are noticeably close together throughout the night. How can you find Spica? The Big Dipper is an excellent guide. You can follow the arc to Arcturus and drive a spike to Spica from the handle of the Big Dipper.
Once you identify Spica, notice the bright golden star-like object somewhat nearby. That’ll be Saturn. The star, Spica, shines blue-white and twinkles, while the planet, Saturn, is golden and shines steadily. Saturn and Spica’s orientation with respect to the horizon will change throughout 2013, and they are different in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. But the star Spica can help you find Saturn throughout this year. Two bright objects in the sky, near each other, might be them!
Tip for finding Saturn #2: Use the planet Jupiter. Have you been watching the dazzling planet Jupiter in the evening sky? You can’t miss it because it’s the brightest star-like object in the west after sunset. If you know Jupiter, it can help you spot Saturn.
When Jupiter sits low in the west at early-to-mid evening, look in the opposite direction to spot Saturn low in the eastern sky. After rising, Saturn will climb upward and westward throughout the evening hours. Why do both Jupiter and Saturn move toward the west throughout the night? Because Earth turns toward the east under the stars.
So if you spot Jupiter – brightest star-like object in the evening sky – and you turn opposite it to find Saturn, how can you be sure the object you’re seeing is Saturn? Remember, Saturn shines with a golden light. It’s a planet, so this world doesn’t twinkle as stars do. And also, remember the star Spica. It’s your ace in the hole for finding Saturn in 2013.
You can find out more information about Saturn and all things astronomy by visiting EarthSky.org .