Upcountry residents have the opportunity to see Saturn up close in August.
According to almanac.com, "Starting this week, Saturn will be at its brightest for 2023, as the Ringed Planet reaches its closest approach to Earth. This is Saturn's time, and your time to see its glorious rings!"
Saturn Closest to Earth!
That's right, Saturn will remain close to Earth, mid-August until mid-September as it heads toward its August 26-27 opposition.
"Opposition" is the point in which Saturn comes the closest to Earth for the whole year. Earth will go between the Sun and Saturn. Saturn will be opposite of the Sun, making it fully illuminated.
Almanac.com states, "More importantly, those fabled rings, which will be edgewise and vanish in 2025, are still 'open' enough to reveal exquisite detail."
See Saturn's Rings
You can look through a small telescope and see the outer ring, named "A ring," and see it is separated from the larger and whiter B ring by black space. Almanac.com says, "This is the famous Cassini Division, a gap that shows up wonderfully with only 100x on the nights when the stars are steady and not twinkling."
"Those rings are fashioned of countless chunks of ordinary water ice, typically the size of beach balls. The rings span 100,000 miles but are only about 35 feet thick. So thin, they're analogous to a sheet of paper the size of a city block." - Almanac.com
"Twice as reflected as the ball of Saturn, the rings double Saturn's brightest when they present their maximum face toward Earth and Sun as they did four years ago. The hemisphere being tilted our way since 2009 - and continuing even now - is the north face, the one whose pole is surrounded by a bizarre hexagon 60 miles high," states Almanac.com.
How to Find Saturn in the Night Sky
While Saturn is in "opposition" in late August, it doesn't change much month to month, so you can start looking the next time you have a clear night this month.
Saturn will rise by 8:30 p.m. but it is best to see around midnight when Saturn shines at its brightest. Look toward the south-southeast about 1/3 of the way up in the sky. Alamanac.com says, "Saturn only gets to about 35 degrees high in the south at its highest, placed near the zodiac constellation Aquarius."
Saturn is the only bright star in that location. Also, stars twinkle, and planets do not. Alamanac.com states, "Wednesday, August 30, it will hover right next to the Full Moon."