Hey, folks. Before you slide into your water skis and head off for the weekend, remember the planet Saturn is at opposition tonight. This is the spot when it, the Earth, and the Sun are in a straight line, which puts Saturn directly opposite the Sun in Earth’s skies. This is the same sort of situation Mars was in a week or so ago, but now it’s Saturn’s turn. The timing of these two oppositions are unrelated and just coincidence. This straight line, along with the extra added reflectivity of Saturn’s rings means there’s quite a bit of sunlight coming back at us from it.
If you want to find Saturn, start by finding the still-really-bright Mars in the southeast skies this evening, and then look for another bright object, this one yellow-orange, about the width of a fist and a half held at arm’s length to Mars’s lower-left. Also, Jupiter’s still shining away higher and further to the west.
Here are a couple of drawings from down at Sky Watch HQ of what’s going on. The one on the left is a not-to-scale, some-pieces-are-missing overhead view of the solar system at the point of Saturn’s opposition, and the one on the right shows the skies to the southeast this evening. It’s worth a look if your skies are cooperative. Have a great weekend, everyone!