An opportunity to take a look at Saturn

This Thursday, the planet will be at a distance of 1,353 million kilometers from Earth, the shortest distance in 378 days. Photo: Nasa

Now it is one of the best times to see the planet Saturn. Although several weeks ago we are slowly approaching him, and we will delay another couple to move away, on Thursday the planet will be at a distance of 1,353 million kilometers from Earth, the smallest distance in 378 days.

This planetary configuration is called opposition and occurs because the planets move in almost circular orbits around the Sun, causing that at different moments we are passing near each one of them. In an opposition we can imagine the Sun, the Earth and farther, the planet making a straight line.

If we are in a place without mountains, we should be able to see Saturn from dawn until dawn, anywhere in the world. On this occasion, the relative inclination of the planet towards us is such that it allows us to easily observe its rings to delight us with its natural beauty.

As the night progresses it rises from the horizon in the east. At 9 p.m. M. It will be 45 degrees from the horizon and the zenith (imaginary point above our heads); At midnight it will be near the zenith, and then, as it rises, it will diminish in height approaching the west.

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With the help of a celestial card (which you can get at an astronomy store or with some specialized software), you can recognize the constellation Scorpio and Sagittarius. Between these two is the constellation of Ophiuchus, and one of the most brilliant points in it is Saturn, which can be observed with the naked eye. If you want to enjoy the rings, you should use binoculars that have an increase of not less than 15 x 70 mm or a low magnification telescope.

This beautiful and interesting planet was one of those that led Galileo, who first observed him in 1610, to rethink the geocentric model in which science and humanity believed that the Earth was stationary in the universe and everything else was spinning Around her, including the Sun. Seeing Saturn with strange bumps that swung and were attached to the planet, made doubts that everything revolved around us.

Currently, the Cassini / Huygens spacecraft is spinning around Saturn and last April crossed the ring belt. The proximity allowed to discover one more moon that adds to the known 63.

Jupiter, “a complex, gigantic and turbulent world”

The Juno spacecraft obtained striking images of the planet’s poles, demonstrating that they are covered with dozens of densely packed storms, possibly dropping hail or snow.


A NASA unmanned spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter has detected huge hurricanes at the poles, revealing surprising details about the largest planet in the solar system, researchers reported.

A NASA statement described the planet as “a complex, gigantic and turbulent world” that is very different from what scientists thought.

Two articles in the journal Science and 44 in Geophysical Research Letters describe a treasure trove of discoveries since Juno began orbiting Jupiter last July.

“We knew that Jupiter would throw us some surprises,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. “There’s so much going on that we did not expect to take a step back and rethink Jupiter as something completely new.”

A look at the planet’s poles has shown that they are covered with dozens of densely clustered storms, possibly dropping hail or snow.

The images of the poles, never before seen, “show the oval-shaped bright masses that are significantly different what has been observed at the poles of Saturn,” one of the studies in the journal Science.

These ovals are huge storms, some of which measure up to 1,400 kilometers in diameter.

More studies are now needed to better understand the nature of Jupiter’s storms, and why the planet acts this way.

The Juno spacecraft took off in 2011 and made its first tour around Jupiter on August 27, 2016. The mission is scheduled to end in February 2018, when it will self-destruct by diving into the planet’s atmosphere.

The project, with an investment of 1,100 million dollars, aims to look under the clouds of Jupiter for the first time to know more about the planet’s atmosphere and how much water it contains.

On July 11, “we will fly directly over one of the most emblematic features of the entire Solar System: the Great Red Spot of Jupiter,” Bolton announced. “If anyone is going to get to the bottom of what is happening below those gigantic swirling crimson clouds, it is Juno and his penetrating scientific instruments.”

NASA-NOAA Satellite Reveals New Views of Earth at Night

This new global view and animation of Earth’s city lights is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite. The data was acquired over nine days in April 2012 and 13 days in October 2012. It took 312 orbits to get a clear shot of every parcel of Earth’s land surface and islands. This new data was then mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet.
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/NOAA NGDC
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