Friday, 09 February 2007 00:00
Saturn's Favorable OppositionWritten by WGCU Newsroom
Saturday night (02-10-07) the sixth planet in our solar system – Saturn – will be closer to the earth than it’s been in decades. And some local folks will be taking a look.
The earth travels around the sun once a year. It takes Saturn about thirty times that long. Tomorrow night their orbits coincide, bringing Saturn, the Earth and the Sun into alignment…and that means the “ringed planet” will be as close as it ever gets to the earth - and as close as it’ll be again until 2029.
Carol Holmberg is Deputy Director of the Planetarium at the Calusa Nature Center in Fort Myers. She says this alignment means Saturn appears larger and brighter than when normally viewed …and is higher in the sky.
“They call that a favorable opposition. It happens with Mars every 14 to 17 years…people get really excited. It happens with Saturn ever 25 to 30 years. So Saturn will be a little bit brighter and a little bit closer than it will be in the next few decades.”
Holmberg says while it is a bit brighter…barring clouds, Saturn is always visible to the naked eye.
Right now it’s visible all night – with its peak at midnight. Members of the Southwest Florida Astronomical Society will be taking their telescopes to Caloosahatchee Regional Park in North Fort Myers tomorrow night. The public is welcome. Please arrive before dark.