"Saturn at its Closest, Brightest, Highest and Best at Midnight New Year's Eve!"

Scheduled air date: 2003 Dec 22-28

As dusk is ending on December 31st—New Year's Eve—the ringed planet Saturn may be seen rising in the East, with a Waxing Gibbous Moon high overhead.
(Shown about an hour after sunset for mid-Northern latitudes.)

As the night progresses, Saturn will rise higher and higher, until it reaches its highest point as we celebrate the beginning of 2004 at midnight.  Because this is the night that Saturn is at opposition—the point in its orbit directly opposite the Sun as seen from Earth—it will appear at its highest, brightest and closest.  And this particular opposition of Saturn is better than any that have occurred since 1974, or will again until 2030.
(Saturn's position relative to the horizon is shown at one-hour intervals from dusk to midnight, December 31 for mid-Northern latitudes.  The meridian is an imaginary line running from due North to due South.)

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.

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