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:
2039 apparition of Saturn
|08 Jan 2039||–||Saturn enters retrograde motion|
|22 Jan 2039||–||Equinox on Saturn|
|16 Mar 2039||–||Saturn at opposition|
|01 Apr 2039||–||Saturn ring plane crossing|
|24 May 2039||–||Saturn ends retrograde motion|
Saturn leaves retrograde motion as its 2039 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|
The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.
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|
19 days old
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.
|01 Apr 2039||– Saturn ring plane crossing|
|09 Jul 2039||– Saturn ring plane crossing|
|28 Mar 2040||– Saturn at opposition|
|10 Apr 2041||– Saturn at opposition|