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Saturn is now at its best for the year and on June 27th opposition is reached. Currently located in Sagittarius the planet is visible all night long, but with a declination of -22 degrees is 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 9.049 AU (approx. 1,354 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. The rings are currently displayed wide open with a 26.5 degrees tilt, and last October they were at their widest possible, an inclination of 27 degrees. 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. A 100mm (4-inch) refractor will show others, including Rhea, Tethys and Dione. At this time of year the moons are also at their brightest.

On opposition day the full Moon is 2 degrees north of Saturn with much brighter Mars, mag. -2.0, positioned about 35 degrees further east. Saturn has an apparent diameter of 18.4 arc seconds and the rings span 42 arc seconds. It's co-ordinates are:- R.A. = 18hr 24m 24s, Dec. = -22d 27h 52s.

View around midnight on June 27, 2018 from London, England (credit:- stellarium/freestarcharts)

View late evening on June 27, 2018 from Cape Town, South Africa (credit:- stellarium/freestarcharts)

Saturn's position on June 27, 2018 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Saturn's position on June 27, 2018 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)