© NASA/Cassini

Saturn enters retrograde motion

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Outer Planets feed

Objects: Saturn
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Saturn will enter retrograde motion, halting its usual eastward movement through the constellations, and turning to move westwards instead. This reversal of direction is a phenomenon that all the solar system's outer planets periodically undergo, a few months before they reach opposition.

The retrograde motion is caused by the Earth's own motion around the Sun. As the Earth circles the Sun, our perspective changes, and this causes the apparent positions of objects to move from side-to-side in the sky with a one-year period. This nodding motion is super-imposed on the planet's long-term eastward motion through the constellations.

The diagram below illustrates this. The grey dashed arrow shows the Earth's sight-line to the planet, and the diagram on the right shows the planet's apparently movement across the sky as seen from the Earth:


The retrograde motion of a planet in the outer solar system. Not drawn to scale.

2029–2030 apparition of Saturn

06 Sep 2029 – Saturn enters retrograde motion
13 Nov 2029 – Saturn at opposition
18 Jan 2030 – Saturn ends retrograde motion

Observing Saturn

Saturn enters retrograde motion as its 2029–2030 apparition gets underway, although it has already been visible for some weeks in the pre-dawn sky.

Its celestial coordinates as it enters retrograde motion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
Saturn 03h31m20s 16°38'N Taurus -0.2 19.0"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

From Ashburn , it will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible around 23:34, when it reaches an altitude of 9° above your eastern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 05:38, 67° above your southern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight around 06:17, 66° above your south-western horizon.

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Over the following weeks, Saturn will reach its highest point in the sky four minutes earlier each night, gradually becoming visible in the evening sky, as well as the pre-dawn sky, as it approaches opposition.

The sky on 06 September 2029
Sunrise
06:41
Sunset
19:33
Twilight ends
21:05
Twilight begins
05:09

27-day old moon
Waning Crescent

3%

27 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 08:12 14:02 19:51
Venus 10:11 15:41 21:10
Moon 04:34 11:30 18:18
Mars 12:07 17:08 22:09
Jupiter 10:11 15:44 21:18
Saturn 22:39 05:38 12:37
All times shown in EDT.

Source

The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE430 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

30 Oct 2028  –  Saturn at opposition
13 Nov 2029  –  Saturn at opposition
27 Nov 2030  –  Saturn at opposition
11 Dec 2031  –  Saturn at opposition

Image credit

© NASA/Cassini

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39.04°N
77.49°W
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