"Saturn comes into Opposition December 17th, and Will Be at its Biggest and Brightest"

Scheduled air date: 2002 Dec 09-15

On December 17th, the ringed planet Saturn will be at opposition—directly opposite the Sun as seen from Earth.  Because of this, and the current orientation of Saturn's rings relative to Earth, Saturn currently appears larger and brighter than it has for the past 30 years—or will for the next 30!
(The image at left represents an over-head view of our Solar System at mid-December.  The two close-ups represent the view of Saturn from Earth at the indicated dates.)

Looking toward the eastern sky a couple of hours after sunset, the planet Saturn appears in the constellation Taurus, above the constellation Orion.
(Shown at about 6:30 PM on December 17 for mid-Northern latitudes.)

If you wish to view illustrations for other episodes, please see our Star Gazer Illustrated directory.

Illustrations on this page were created using TheSky Astronomy Software, an advanced desktop planetarium program designed for Windows.

Copyright 1999-2006 by Software Bisque, Inc.