© NASA/Cassini

Saturn at solar conjunction

Thu, 21 Dec 2017 at16:12 EST(338 days away)
21:12 UTC

Dominic Ford, Editor
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Saturn will pass very close to the Sun in the sky as its orbit carries it around the far side of the solar system from the Earth.

At closest approach, Saturn will appear at a separation of only 0°54' from the Sun, making it totally unobservable for several weeks while it is lost in the Sun's glare.

At around the same time, Saturn will also be at its most distant from the Earth – receding to a distance of 11.05 AU – since the two planets will lie on opposite sides of the solar system.

If Saturn could be observed at this time, it would appear at its smallest and faintest on account of its large distance. It would measure 15.0 arcsec in diameter.

Over following weeks and months, Saturn will re-emerge to the west of the Sun, gradually becoming visible for ever-longer periods in the pre-dawn sky. After around six months, it will reach opposition, when it will be visible for virtually the whole night. A chart of the path of Saturn across the sky in 2017 can be found here, and a chart of its rising and setting times here.

The position of Saturn at the moment it passes solar conjunction will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Angular Size
Saturn 17h59m40s -22°31' Sagittarius 15.0"
Sun 17h59m -23°26' Sagittarius 32'30"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 21 December 2017
Sunrise: 07:16
Sunset: 16:31
Twilight
from 05:37
until 18:10

3-day old moon
Age of Moon:
3 days

All times shown in EST.
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 05:49 10:42 15:35
Venus 06:58 11:34 16:10
Moon 09:36 14:35 19:35
Mars 02:59 08:16 13:33
Jupiter 03:37 08:46 13:54
Saturn 07:14 11:54 16:34

Warning

Never attempt to point a pair of binoculars or a telescope at an object close to the Sun. Doing so may result in immediate and permanent blindness.

Source

The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE405 planetary ephemeris published by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

This event was automatically generated by searching the ephemeris for planetary alignments which are of interest to amateur astronomers, and the text above was generated based on an estimate of your location.

Related news

21 Dec 2017, 16:12 ESTSaturn at solar conjunction
27 Jun 2018, 09:15 EDTSaturn at opposition
02 Jan 2019, 00:53 ESTSaturn at solar conjunction
09 Jul 2019, 12:55 EDTSaturn at opposition

Image credit

© NASA/Cassini

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