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What's in the Sky?

Thursday 17th of October

Still a good month to observe Saturn in the constellation of Virgo.

Saturn is now in the southern-western sky after sunset. It lies in the constellation Virgo close to the its brightest star Spica. The rings are now 13 degrees from the line of site and so Saturn appears brighter than for a couple of years, but it will not be until 2018 that they will be at their widest again.

It is one of the most beautiful objects in the heavens and though you will never see all the detail that is shown in the Cassini images - or even those made by Damian Peache - your first view of Saturn and its rings will never be forgotten.

It takes Saturn 29.4 years to complete one orbit. Due to the tilt of its rotation axis, for half this time we see the northern hemisphere best and for the other half the southern hemisphere. Following the time when we saw the rings edge on a year or so ago, we are now seeing the northern hemisphere. A small telescope will show the two brightest rings, the outer A ring and the closer in B or Bright ring.

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