Saturn, the Lord of the Rings

Saturn is now rising in the evening and is well placed for observing for the next few months.

On 11th February 2007, Saturn will be opposite the Sun in relation to Earth. That means that from our planet, Saturn will rise as the Sun sets, reaching its highest point in the southern sky at midnight and setting as the Sun rises.


Saturn takes 29.42 years to orbit the Sun. Its path is not quite circular, and it was on 26th July 2003 that Saturn reached its closest point to the Sun on that orbit, called perihelion. The ringed planet was then 748.3 million miles (1.2 billion kilometers) from Earth.

And what's even more interesting is that Saturn's rings are now flattening. Below is a video of how Saturn's rings tilt over time. You can see Saturn get closer and farther away on every orbit of the Earth around the sun, but you can also see how the rings tilt over a 30 year period.

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