© NASA/Cassini

Saturn ends retrograde motion

Dominic Ford, Editor
From the Outer Planets feed

Objects: Saturn
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Saturn will reach the end of its retrograde motion, ending its westward movement through the constellations and returning to more usual eastward motion instead. This reversal of direction is a phenomenon that all the solar system's outer planets periodically undergo, a few months after they pass 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.

2035–2036 apparition of Saturn

30 Nov 2035 – Saturn enters retrograde motion
04 Feb 2036 – Saturn at opposition
12 Apr 2036 – Saturn ends retrograde motion

Observing Saturn

Saturn leaves retrograde motion as its 2035–2036 apparition comes to an end, although it will remain visible for some weeks in the dusk sky.

Its celestial coordinates as it leaves retrograde motion will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Magnitude Angular Size
Saturn 08h58m20s 18°15'N Cancer 0.0 18.9"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

From Ashburn , it will be visible in the evening sky, becoming accessible around 20:13 (EST), 68° above your southern horizon, as dusk fades to darkness. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 20:41, 69° above your southern horizon. It will continue to be observable until around 02:48, when it sinks below 9° above your 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 disappearing into evening twilight.

The sky on 21 January 2022
Twilight ends
Twilight begins

19-day old moon
Waning Gibbous


19 days old

Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 07:23 12:33 17:42
Venus 05:47 10:55 16:03
Moon 19:57 02:57 09:48
Mars 05:16 09:55 14:35
Jupiter 09:04 14:32 20:00
Saturn 08:08 13:12 18:16
All times shown in EST.


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

04 Feb 2036  –  Saturn at opposition
17 Feb 2037  –  Saturn at opposition
03 Mar 2038  –  Saturn at opposition
15 Oct 2038  –  Saturn ring plane crossing

Image credit

© NASA/Cassini






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