Generally since the Earth passed through Saturn’s ring plane in 2009, the tilt and
view of the rings have been improving. However, Saturn’s declination has been dipping
into the southern celestial hemisphere where it will remain until 2026.
Saturn appeared to pass in conjunction behind the Sun on 2012 OCT 25. It reached
western quadrature (90° from Sun) on 2013 JAN 30. Apparent retrograde motion commenced
on FEB 19.
Saturn’s greatest brilliance for this apparition at magnitude +0.1 is expected
around 2013 APR 20. Opposition from the Sun will occur on APR 28 when it is also
expected to make its closest approach to Earth for this apparition at 8.8162 AU with
an equatorial angular diameter of 18.8 arcseconds. On that date the tilt of Saturn’s
rings will be +18.1°, implying that its north pole is tipping toward Earth.
Apparent direct motion for Saturn will resume on 2013 JUL 09 and eastern quadrature
will be reached on JUL 28. Saturn will eventually move to conjunction behind the
Sun on NOV 06.
Saturn will appear in conjunction with Venus on 2013 SEP 18. It will appear in
conjunction with Mercury on 2013 OCT 08.
The Moon will appear to pass near Saturn on 2013 APR 26, MAY 23, JUN 19, JUL 16,
AUG 13, SEP 09 & OCT 07.
NOTE: Events in this article are geocentric in Universal Time unless otherwise noted.
* A meridian transit occurs when a celestial body crosses an observer’s local north-south
line in the sky. That is practically simultaneous with culmination, i.e. the highest
altitude for the day. The Saturn meridian transit times in the above linked graph
can be easily transformed for your location. The given times are nearly the same
for the central meridians of all time zones, i.e. those evenly divisible by 15° such
as 75°, 90°, 105° or 120°. Do not adjust to UT. Simply add to the chart time 4 minutes
for each degree west of a central meridian, or subtract 4 minutes for each degree
to the east. If on daylight savings time, add an hour.