Saturn is now at its best for the year and on June 15th opposition is reached. Currently located in Ophiuchus the planet is visible all night long, but with a declination of -22 degrees it's much better placed from southern and tropical locations. For example, Saturn reaches a maximum altitude of 78 degrees and is visible for over 13 hours from Sydney, Australia. Whereas from New York City, it climbs just 28 degrees high with a visibility period lasting 9 hours.

Saturn imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope (credit:- NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA))

At opposition, Saturn shines at magnitude 0.0 and is located 9.043 AU (approx. 1,353 million kilometres or 841 million miles) from Earth. Of course, the spectacular rings are its most famous feature and even a small telescope will show them. They are currently wide open with a 26.5 degrees tilt. In October, the rings will be at their widest open, displaying a maximum inclination of 27 degrees. They are a breathtaking sight especially through medium and large aperture scopes. In addition, a handful of Saturn's moons are also visible. The largest and brightest is eighth magnitude Titan, which can be seen with binoculars. Small scopes also show others including Rhea, Tethys and Dione. At this time of year the moons are also brightest.

Saturn has an apparent diameter of 18.4 arc seconds and the rings span 42 arc seconds. It's co-ordinates on June 15th are:- R.A. = 17hr 35m 23s, Dec. = -21d 57h 41s.

View before midnight towards the southeast on June 15, 2017 from London, England (credit:- stellarium/freestarcharts)

View late evening towards the east on June 15, 2017 from Cape Town, South Africa (credit:- stellarium/freestarcharts)

Saturn's position on June 15, 2017 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Saturn's position on June 15, 2017 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)


Sky Highlights - August 2017

Total Solar Eclipse
Total Solar Eclipse of August 21st

Meteor Shower
Perseids meteor shower peaks on August 12th

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for August

Northern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Mercury (mag. +0.4) (start of month)
Southwest:- Jupiter (mag. -1.9)
South:- Saturn (mag. +0.3)
East:- Neptune (mag. +7.8)
Midnight
Southwest:- Saturn
Southeast:- Neptune
East:- Uranus (mag. +5.8)
Morning
Southwest:- Neptune
South:- Uranus
East:- Venus (mag. -4.0)

Southern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Mercury (first half of month)
Northwest:- Jupiter
North:- Saturn
East:- Neptune
Midnight
West:- Jupiter
Northwest:- Saturn
North:- Neptune
East:- Uranus
Morning
West:- Neptune
North:- Uranus
Northeast:- Venus

Deep Sky

Small telescopes:-
Messier 13 - M13 - Great Hercules Globular Cluster
Messier 92 - M92 - Globular Cluster
Messier 11 - M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 7 - M7 - The Ptolemy Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 6 - M6 - The Butterfly Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 4 - M4 - Globular Cluster
Messier 8 - M8 - Lagoon Nebula (Emission Nebula)
Messier 16 - M16 - Eagle Nebula (Emission Nebula with Open Cluster)
Messier 20 - M20 - Trifid Nebula (Emission and Reflection Nebula)

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