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.