Starwatch: Saturn makes its closest strategy to Earth of the 12 months

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Starwatch chart

The attractive ringed planet Saturn has arrived at its closest strategy to Earth of the 12 months.

On 14 August, Saturn is 8.86 astronomical items from Earth. An astronomical unit is the radius of Earth’s orbit across the solar. Equal to roughly 150m km, that locations Saturn 1.3bn km away at present. Travelling at a mean pace of 9.69km a second, Saturn takes roughly 29.5 years to finish a single orbit of the solar. Transferring nearly thrice as rapidly, Earth undertakes Saturn each 378 days, passing instantly between it and the solar.

Seen from Earth, Saturn is centred within the reverse facet of the sky to the solar, therefore astronomers name this shut move “opposition”. As Earth catches up and glides previous Saturn, our perspective makes the distant planet seem to briefly backtrack throughout the backdrop of stars. For a number of months, as a substitute of its typical eastward movement via the constellations, the planet strikes westward. This obvious “retrograde” movement started on 4 June and can final till 23 October.

The chart exhibits the view wanting due south at 0100 BST on 16 August. From Sydney, Australia, the planet seems due north at about midnight.


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